October 22nd, 2008
03:11 PM ET
6 years ago

Fact Check: Did Obama propose a stimulus plan last year that McCain's staff called 'junk'?

Sen. Obama said he's supported plans to improve the economy McCain was against.
Sen. Obama said he's supported plans to improve the economy McCain was against.

The Statement:
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, speaking at a campaign event Tuesday, October 21, in Miami, Florida, said he's supported plans to improve the economy that Republican opponent Sen. John McCain was against. "Nine months ago - back in January - I called for a stimulus plan to provide immediate relief for states, along with tax rebates to get money directly to middle class families and a foreclosure-prevention fund to help people keep their homes. Senator McCain, on the other hand, insisted that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. His advisors openly mocked the stimulus plan before Congress - one referred to it, and I quote, as 'borrowing money from the Chinese and dropping it from helicopters.' Another dismissed it as 'junk.' "

Get the facts!

The Facts
In January, McCain's campaign had been reluctant to back an economic stimulus package floated by Congress, the White House and other candidates from both parties. On January 24, Kevin Hassett, a top McCain advisor, speaking during an economic panel, made the "borrowing money from the Chinese" comment. "Just raining cash down - which seems like what Congress wants to do - is not going to have much of an effect," he said.

McCain financial advisor and former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, in an article published January 10 in U.S. News & World Report, was quoted as saying that sometimes Congress can turn stimulus packages into an excuse for pork-barrel spending. "See, you usually end up with a lot of junk," he said. Holtz-Eakin also clarified that he was speaking of his own opinions and not on behalf of the McCain campaign.

Obama announced his plan on January 13, two days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to President Bush asking for his help in putting together a stimulus package. Some elements of Obama's proposals did appear in the bill that was ultimately approved, but he was just one of many politicians from both parties that worked on the plan.

And when the economic stimulus plan that was being kicked around came up for a vote in the Senate on February 7, McCain voted in favor of it. Obama, in the middle of a tight Democratic primary race, was not present for that vote. But he had voted the day before to move the bill forward. That effort fell two votes short, which is why the final vote was not until the following day.

The Verdict: Misleading. Obama accurately quotes one comment, but the "junk" comment is taken out of context. He appears to overstate his role in the creation of the stimulus plan, which McCain ultimately supported


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • John McCain
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