Jillian Michaels and Bill Maher Debate Whether Inflation Really That Bad

Fitness influencer Jillian Michaels joined controversial comedian Bill Maher on a Feb 11 episode of “Club Random” for a discussion that included a friendly debate over the extent to which inflation is really a significant issue.

Going by the numbers

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“Isn’t it remarkable to you?” Maher asked Michaels. “Like, it was in the paper today — this country came out of the pandemic way better. We won the pandemic economically.”

Vibe check

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“We did?” Michaels responded. “I don’t feel that way. Explain it to me. I feel like inflation’s insane.”

Friendly anger

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When Maher attempted to argue that inflation wasn’t, in fact, insane, Michaels countered, “Bill, go buy a car. A house has tripled here. Buy some fu…ing eggs!”

The data

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, groceries that would have cost Americans $100 in December 2019 now cost about $125.51. 

Rate vs absolute

Comparing, Scale, Balls,
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While Biden has successfully brought the rate of inflation down to normal levels, the absolute increase in prices over the last few years has left many Americans feeling economically worse off than they were before. The rate of change in grocery prices has dropped to 1.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, similar to what it was before the pandemic and in early 2021.

Realizing the problem

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“There’s feeling, and then there’s the numbers,” Maher said. “Numbers have come down a lot in the last six months.”

Compound increase

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While grocery prices have only risen by 1.3% over the last 12 months, Axios explained, that relatively small increase was added to the major increases in previous periods. Almost three-quarters of respondents to an Axios Vibes poll said groceries “are where they feel most affected by inflation.”


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“Americans’ frustration with their rising grocery bills underpins their negative views about the economy — an economy that the professionals say is doing pretty well,” Axios concluded. 

Different recovery

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According to the Brookings Institute, the US really did have a swifter pandemic recovery than its peer nations. “In contrast to Europe and Japan,” a December 2021 report noted, “US GDP exceeded its pre-COVID level in the third quarter of 2021.”

Getting it wrong

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However, Maher argued inflation was an “inevitable” consequence of the government giving “$6 trillion so that everybody could hide under the bed from the forever flu. That was never going to end well.”

Totally incorrect

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In fact, the Brookings Institute concluded in its December 2021 report that the COVID-19 fiscal stimulus package — in particular, how large it was compared to peer nations — was one of the three main reasons for America’s relatively rapid economic recovery.

Dangerous language

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Maher’s dismissal of COVID-19 as a “flu” is also incorrect, as every major medical organization agrees. “No, COVID-19 is not the flu,” John Hopkins asserts. In August 2023, MedPage Today reported that Covid was “still deadlier than the flu.”

Keep on going

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“The big picture,” Maher said, “is that every other nation in the world [is] much worse off now, and this country, for some reason, just chugs fu…ing along.” Maher did not provide any data to back this claim.

Pointing blame

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“Immigration,” Maher said. “We are kinda being overrun. Doesn’t seem to affect anything!” “Does it eventually implode?” Michaels responded. “I would say yes.”

No basis in reality

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Despite recent surges in immigration, the number of people entering the US in relative terms was far higher in the early twentieth century. Additionally, according to the American Immigration Council, undocumented immigrants paid over $11 billion in state and local taxes alone in 2013.

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