February 15th, 2009
11:49 AM ET
14 years ago

Stimulus bill was 'a bad beginning' for Obama, says McCain


CNN's John King sat down with Sen. John McCain in Phoenix, Arizona. Watch Part 1 of McCain's interview.

(CNN) – Arizona Sen. John McCain did not pull any punches in assessing a major milestone in his former rival’s nascent presidency.

Watch: McCain on State of the Union

“It was a bad beginning,” McCain said Sunday of the legislative process that resulted in the $787 billion stimulus bill recently passed by Congress. “It was a bad beginning because it wasn’t what we promised the American people, what President Obama promised the American people – that we would sit down together.”

While McCain said he appreciated the fact that Obama came to Capitol Hill to speak with House Republicans about the stimulus bill. But, “that’s not how you negotiate a result.” Instead, “you sit down in a room with competing proposals” and “almost all of our proposals went down on a party-line vote”

“I hope the next time we will sit down together and conduct truly bipartisan negotiations. This was not a bipartisan bill.”

But the former Republican presidential nominee was also critical of how his own party had conducted itself in the past when it came to bipartisanship.

“Republicans were guilty of this kind of behavior,” McCain said. “I’m not saying that we did things different. But Americans want us to do things differently and they want us to work together.”

The stimulus bill which Obama will sign Tuesday is “incredibly expensive,” McCain also said. “It has hundreds of billions of dollars in projects which will not yield in jobs,” McCain told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “This was supposed to be a package that was going to create jobs.”

McCain also spoke about the potential long-term effects of the stimulus bill.

“We are committing generational theft,” McCain said. “We are laying a huge deficit on future generations of Americans.”

Failure to bring the federal government’s spending back in line with its revenue once the economy improves could lead to inflation and debasement of the dollar down the road, McCain also told King.

McCain, who has represented the border state of Arizona in the Senate for more than two decades, also discussed illegal immigration on State of the Union.

Related video: McCain on immigration, the housing crisis

soundoff (1,743 Responses)
  1. grandad

    Why is the republican party behaving this way? Because they know that 90% of our problem is consumer confidence. They want to undermine confidence in the new bill, because they will help further their cause in making the economy worse and therefore their wish for failure can be attained via propaganda.

    February 15, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. abdul S

    America has tried the failed policies of Bush by giving Tax Cut for rich and well to do people and Mcain was a cheer leader for that. President Obama was elected by the people and he is for the peopl;e. Rep. must get over it. it is not point for the base. All on board, It is an American economy recovery plan. Country first, get it.

    February 15, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Elaine

    I am a regular for CNN and can't resist in responing to this issue with the Republicians. First of all who are they to be giving advise when they did nothing for eight years. Now suddently they have all the answers. It is pitiful to us the american people watching to see them behaving like little kids in pre-school.

    They claim everything about the stimulus is , but until now they have not presented a plan for us to see of what the grand solution they have to make things better. This stimulus might not be perfect and by the way there will never be a perfect one, but al least the president is trying. The Republicans made the mess in the first place and they never tried to fix or change anything for eight years. They said from the begining that they would not support the president so we the pubic are not surprised. The Republicans have always being for themselves and they spent years in Washington practicing how to be selfish and keep the wealth to themselves and those in their circle.

    This is a new day, if you can't take the heat, then get out the kitchen. Bickering and complaining is not going to get anything done. As for McCain, he has not learned anything yet, it is is mouth that cost him the election in the first place. Grandpa you should be a role model for lifting up and now tearing down. Us young people have no respect for the behavior you and your party is exhibiting. Time to be a part of the solution and not the problem.

    Thanks CNN for providing such great coverage

    February 15, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair!

    I have been watching this competition between the parties for many years now, and it has been tit for tat as long as I can remember.
    It seems both parties have some good ideas, and some have not so good ideas. It has been a process of trial and error that is usually determined by who has lobbied with the most money, and can project the best apperance to the American people. We the people have fallen prey to an ocean of underlying motives, and objectives from both sides of the political spectrum. It seems we have not held to the values that our fore fathers intended for us to use as the years and political landscape have changed. When this country was young and it was molded from the experiences of people that were raised in societies that had thousands of years of history in many cultures and were trying to give this new nation the benefit of a collective optimism that was not afforded to them from older cultures that were tainted.
    It seems that we might truley have a chance to try and return to the people, the chance to have a UNBIASED and collaborative government that has the best interest of the people in mind. Some will say that can not be acheived, but it can if there is not partisanship used in self interest by our leading parties.
    I am so tired of our leaders being more interested in belonging to a politial group than taking from both sides the best policies for the people as a whole! I think Obama has the right idea, and we should look at the past very hard and take the lessons we have paid so deerly for and let the him do what he needs to do unimpeded so we can lead the world back to prosperity from the pits which we have fallen, for I fear if we don't soon it will be to late, if it isn't already. We have not come this far to fall into ruin now.

    February 15, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. John

    If you think that this bill was wasteful and oversized...an expenditure of foolishness at monumental levels...well, with Obama in power...you ain't seen nothin' yet!

    February 15, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. H-Town

    Rush zombie McCain.................

    February 15, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. ari from virginia

    If Mr. Obama is irritating the republicans


    February 15, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. jellyfishdude

    I don't see how this shows McCain is whining. He's making a good case.

    February 15, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. annie

    Bipartisanship is an individual decision. President Obama has been and is reaching out to everyone. It is a person's individual decision whether or not to reach back. There has been a lot of whining and finger pointing and not a whole lot of attention being paid to providing solutions to the issues our country faces. The problems we face are unprecedented and there needs to be forward thinking people who are willing to understand the problems and develop the solutions that best serve the American people.

    Those who are in positions of power have great responsibilities and they need to “grow up” and stop behaving as though they are in junior high school and begin to look beyond their own selfish wants and/or re-elections and serve the American people.

    John McCain appears to becoming bitter. John McCain said in his concession speech that he would work with the president and yet all he does is criticize him. It is time for him to lead by example or please keep his negative comments to himself.

    It might be a good idea for the media to stop providing opportunities for our so-called “leaders” to bring division to this county with their negative attitudes (republicans and democrats) and let them do what they were voted in to do, SERVE. It is very difficult to develop positive solutions when all you have are negative thoughts.

    February 15, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Proud American

    How do you say Moron in Republican? McCain/Palin

    February 15, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. SG

    Drop everything and go watch this riveting interview between Bill Moyers and Simon Johnson on the financial crisis here: http://pbs.org/moyers/journal/02132009/watch.html

    Then check out his blog here:

    Folks are just about ready to pick up their pitchforks and head to Wall Street, and you'll want to, too, after you watch that interview.

    February 15, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. lamuella

    McCain added that he didn't want any of those grapes anyway because they were probably sour.

    February 15, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Matthew

    Patrick, you need to understand that government spending CAN create jobs. Lets look at some of that "pork". The student financial aid for example. When students have more money for college, they don't have to drop out. When they stay in school paying the school with aid, the school gets more money than it would have without those students. More money = less teachers and faculty laid off, i.e. jobs saved.

    You conservatives always over-simplify the economy. You're like cave men, "tax cuts good. spending bad. me hungry." The economy is complex, government spending targeted to areas where jobs are needed does indeed stimulate.

    In any case, I'm really tired of Republicans suddenly getting bent out of shape about spending when their beloved Pres. Bush and his congress blew a surplus and decided to go spend billions of dollars and thousands of American lives on a pointless war.

    February 15, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Eileen

    Dano – principles – republicans?

    Please. Especially when a flip-flopping fraud like mccain is the subject. The man sold his soul – and his principles – for the support of the religious right during the election. Seems to me the republicans have selective use for principles – they have them when it suits their needs, otherwise, forgeddaboutit. So are we to believe that they're suddenly fiscal conservatives again after their actions during the bush administration. C'mon.

    Obama was very gracious to mccain, and mccain has reacted with the mental maturity of a 7 year old. He's proven himself to be an angry and bitter loser. Nothing more. He's got the political acumen of a doorknob – his campaign and the selection of Palin as his running mate are testament to it.

    February 15, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. Richard in California

    A comment and a question:

    1. The failure of bipartisan support on the economic stimulus bill is entirely the Republican's fault. Short of giving into all of their demands (read: failed Bush policies that got us into this mess), the Republicans have clearly indicated that they will stonewall Obama at every turn.

    2. When Bush had a minority in the House and Senate for his last 2 years, he still able to ram through his neo-con political agenda. But now that the Democrats have a near super-majority in the Senate, do they HAVE to have a "magic" 60? I know, I know, the threat of a filibuster. But my point is, Bush never had anything close to what Obama has. Are the Republicans screaming "Filibuster!" at everything, just to stonewall any of President Obama's efforts?

    February 15, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. Jaime

    This little man needs to let it go. I should to think he was a decent enough guy, but that campaign changed him and now he's just a GOP tool.

    Someone needs to get him a dictionary to help him understand the meaning of "change"...hey John!, it doesn't mean continuing the same failed tactics for the last 8 years, it means "CHANGING" them to the opposite strategy.

    Roland Burgus (sp?) said it great the other night "we don't know if we're right, but you've had 8 years, now it's our turn to try it our way"

    Why wont the republicans just sit back, if Obama's idea's fail then they get their power back, if Obama is right then the country is saved.
    Oh But no, The republicans don't care if we're saved, they just want Obama is fail at our expense, just so they have a shot at 2012.

    "Country First", what a line of BS.

    February 15, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. pat C.


    February 15, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. Lorna in Warminster PA

    Dano...it's amazing to me anyone can put the words "Republicans" and "Principles" in the same sentence. Seriously!

    February 15, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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