February 15th, 2009
11:49 AM ET
12 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. Joe - Chicago

    Hate to say this to you Sen. McCain, as I have a great deal of personal respect for your integrity and service to our great nation. When it comes to politics, you're clueless. President Obama might have taken a few bumps and bruises over this, but the republicans nicked their own jugular.

    At this point, your parties only hope is that Obama's policies fix this nation, but the results of it takes awhile. That way you can slip in, do nothing, let his policies finish their work, and you can claim credit. If the economy turns around before 2012, Republicans are done. And if the policies fail, then the Republicans will have a broken economy with no clue how to fix it in 2012.

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Donna Scheubert

    Where was all of this worry and concern during the last 8 years as Sen. McCain and his party took the surplus Geroge Bush was handed and turned it into the mess of an economy that President Obama inherited?

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. patricia campbell

    Sit back you Dems and see all your freedom and ability to think for yourself taken away. Just wait and see. We'll see who has the last laugh.

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Chris

    Nothing stopped John McCain from walking into to the negotiating table with Reid/Durbin/Snowe/Collins/Spector.....why weren't you there John?

    It is always easier to take pot shots buddy than to actually get down and dirty and negotiate.

    It was clear from the moment these bills were put on the legislative calender what the Republican Strategy was going to be...too bad that strategy doesn't help the American people.

    Shame on you John McCain...shame on you.

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. John McCain

    My name is john mccain and I stand for a divided america

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. rey

    tacky old sore LOOSER!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. laz

    You know, it's easy to fire at the guy who volunteered to take on the biggest disaster in recent history. How about instead of criticizing his first three weeks as president, why not use that brain power to help figure out a way to disable the destructive forces ruining the greatness about America? There's 2 parts to this, the stimulus of course ... But there also needs to be some serious federal punishments put towards those who abuse our free market economy.

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Rick

    Obama has made every effort to reach across the aisle. McLame and his party voted AGAINST the largest tax cuts ever proposed in this country. How dare this old coot condemn a man who is twice as smart, half the age and who kicked his butt among the voters. Why does John King think I care what the old fool has to say? We don't!

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. JD

    I just love how people are still willing to eat out of the palm of this guy's hand.

    Bitter, bitter Republicans...

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. philip

    No Senator McCain, you claim to have been a leader within the previous administration who advocated a mostly un-necessary war that was mis-managed, leading to over spending. You were part of the leadership that blew a surplus from the previous administration and spent us into debt. You claim you were part of the leadership, who created this mess and now all you can do is throw skuds at the new adminstration who was elected to fix YOUR mess. Do us a favor and if you do not have a full-blown solution to offer during discussion of a bill, keep your mouth shut when the voting is over. Seems you were pretty quiet during the discussion or your staff does a poor job of getting you press coverage. You are the one who is off to another ineffective year.

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. d

    Geez..give Obama a break. He's been president for all of 4 weeks. Just goes to show how some Americans expect immediate results all the time from fast food to politics.

    February 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Grumpy Old Man

    Yeah the republicans whined and asked for more tax cuts which obviously worked SO well for the past 8 years...

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. Will

    Your party already committed generational theft.

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. jason

    Obama cannot "sit down together" if the republicans do not want to.
    Three cabinet members, tax cuts, etc, what more can he do?

    I am not in favor of a bailout as an idea but the past 8 years have brought us to a point where we need this... I am even not in favor of this specific bailout as I think it needs to be accompanies with stricter laws that is presently now in it. But still Obama has my full support!

    McCain is an irrelevant grumpy old man that repeats ideological positions without really knowing why....

    McCain is simply a loser, literally in this case.

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. karkri

    Who needs to listen to this loser? If he cannot offer a solution, keep the mouth shut. Oh, I forgot, he's part of the problem!

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. Joanna

    well john, we did sit down, you all refuse to contribute. That is YOUR problem.

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. SC

    Don't say too much, baldy. We would get much worse with you. Imagine how you suspended your campaign to fly back immediately from NY to DC and it took you 22 hours, which was 21 hours more than it should take.

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. Patrick

    Why do we continue to give this guy more than his fifteen minutes of fame? Can anyone say, "Sore loser?" Also, since when did the Republicans become advocates for the "regular guy"? It's like they're so out of touch that they're space aliens or something!

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. Joe R (in AZ)

    Although I voted for you Sen. McCain, I feel it's time to drop the rheotric and get your hands dirty and fix the problem. There is too much finger pointing and BS politics being played out while ordinary hard working citizens are faced with the same old nothing results.

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. kyle

    "Ah..John…what about the trillion dollar war in Iraq for the past how many years???…what jobs is that creating for the American public?? besides the funeral directors?

    Karen in Canada"

    This is probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard anyone say. If anything the war stimulated the economy to allow the hyper-inflation that we saw through Oct. of last year.
    If you're going to speak, at least know what you're talking about.

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. anonevent

    Talk about being full of it. The only thing these guys are willing to negotiate are the terms of Obama's surrender. The problem is, Obama won. And now he's won twice against McCain.

    I hear their whining, but the Republicans voted against the tax increase by Clinton, and then the economy did great. They vote in their tax cuts, and the economy tanks. And they blow the debt sky high and they're going to complain about costs now. Give me a break.

    February 15, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. Joyce

    McCain's whiney voice makes me want to switch channels but won't cuz I like John King and his show. Will just leave the room for awhile. Please don't have that McCain guy on anymore.

    February 15, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Margaret

    I agree with Senator John McCain that Obama is starting off on the
    wrong track. That what inexperience does. This package went
    through without reading what this package was all about. We will wait and see what happens and it is sad to see this country going down the tupe because of the Pelosi and Reid and also the rest of
    the gang

    February 15, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. Mark in Polk City

    Sore looser....

    February 15, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. Heath

    This is the same idiot that said the economy "was not his strong point."

    Way to go John. You just proved that you really are Bush-light! Idiot

    February 15, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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