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. Joyce

    shut up McCain. You make my skin crawl. Voice sounds like he's about to break down & cry.

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. andy

    lets see the republican have no ideas no clues and just say no over and over again. then complain that it isnt bi partasian. give me a break.

    the republican party had the money to reseed the national mall taken from the bill. they are in favor of turning this national monument symbol of our freedom into a vacant lot looking eyesore.

    the republican party had the money to stop the spread of STDs removed from the bill. the republican party is in favor of spreading STDs.

    the republican party voted against tax breaks to the american public and business. in their rush to oppose the president they have become the party of high taxes.

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  3. william . Oregon

    McCain refuse any of the money for your state. Put up or shut up.

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Mary

    The Rs lost the election and are acting like pouting toddlers. John McCain is the worst. Of course our brilliant house members acted like poor winners also. Can't someone in our government act like a stable adult?

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. DN

    People have better be aware that the GOP must be banking on this stimulus package failing. They have to be banking on it. Not one Republican in the House voted for it. Our nation is in real crisis and they are a unified front against the package that we all should hope will turn the financial mess around.

    President Obama has shown he is doing his best to get our country going in the right direction. Senator Gregg seeks out and accepts the nomination for Commerce Secretary, only to decline based on information he must've known from the beginning? Why?

    Notice the GOP are not attacking Obama but rather the Dems in Congress. Why? The President's approval ratings are too high, much higher than the legislative body of our government. This appears to be all very strategic. Millions of Americans are hurting and political strategy seems to be the Republicans top priority even now. Do you accept that?

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Mike S.

    Lame lame lame. Obama is dealing with a country that is a mess. If Obama's off to a bad begining then W had a horific end. I mean, what did W do for the last 6 months? He hid, McCain and Co. didn't want him talking for fear he would sink their chances of wining. The Repub. have talked a good game, but really, we've been stagnant for quite sometime.

    I feel things are moving forward again.

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. Cheryl, Chevy Chase MD

    Since the Republicans claim that they have learned from their own historically obstructionist behavior, they should be willing to demonstrate their learning by being the first to compromise, otherwise their words and advise ring hollow.

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. brian

    McCain can sit around and complain about the way Obama is performing all he wants, but he can't prove he could be doing any better. His comments show he is a sore loser and is going to point out all the faults of Obama throughout his presidency. It's a good thing we didn't elect McCain, think about the destruction he could have caused in office.

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Incredulous

    Why would you ask the loser to evaluate the winner? What do you think he is going to say? Why not have Rush there with McCain?
    McCain's chief financial advisor initially was Phil Graham who is always listed as one of the major contributors of our financial disaster.
    CNN in attempting to show their lack of bias, is incrediby biased in letting McCain and the republicans spout their bile without challenge. Shame on you.

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Winston Smith

    I liked the John McCain that did the Barbara Steisand Medley on "Saturday Night Live" YEARS AGO.
    This McCain just seems like just another tired old politician with no real vision for the future.
    Hopefully, there will be bills that McCain and Obama will together to support during the next four years.
    Regardless...with his age and health..probably this is the last term for John in the Senate.
    He can either choose to be part of the solution or sit on the sideline with John Boner and Eric Canter....saying they are HAPPY to be "the party of NO".

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. Elmo

    I believe the Republicans were against most of the proposals because their the ones with jobs and will have to write the checks to pay for these social programs.
    Where do the Dems think this money is going to come from. Certainly not from the majority who voted for Obama...

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. Amie


    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Caryl

    Senator McCain-where is your cross the isle willingness to work together? Bitter?

    Every time you open your mouth it is clear you parrot your staff-you should have studied harder

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Phil

    Way to stand up for America again Mr. McCain. Obama's rhetoric is already losing it's sweetness with the American public. He is not a uniter like he proposed, he is just a Democrat. Never once did Obama vote against his own party in the Senate. McCain has been working with democrats and republicans alike for many years. McCain should have been president, he is the uniter. He wouldnt have given us this bailout that is just going to give money to research (ex: global warming, carbon capture, california wines, contraceptives, digital tv) and not into job making. Unfortunately the people who voted Obama still wont face reality that this guy will not be the Messiah! Now I'm off to the Bush Ranch to thank W for a great 8 years.

    February 15, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Jeff

    I may not agree with all of what Mcain says, but he is right on one point, this stimulus bill will in time prove to be a disater. It looks good now but is a bridge to nowhere. People need to stop with knee jerk reactions regaurdless of party affiliation and think things thru instead of rushing in too quickly throwing money at a problem hoping to fix it.

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. Edward

    Some Republican guest when asked on MSNBC how come they, the Republicans, didn't sound off on Bush's wasteful spending stated that the president doesn't spend a dime, that congress are the ones who spend money and that Dems have controlled congress for the last 2 years. I was wondering why no one called him on the fact that Republicans controlled congress for 6 whole years and squandered a trillion dollar plus surplus turning it into the largest national debt that our country has ever seen. Yet they feel as if they have some sort of high ground when it comes to spending policy, give me a break ... do they think that people have such short memories?

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Terry

    Do republicans remember their "money to nowhere" bill ? It was supposed to bailout financial institutions. This is a bill they pushed down the throats of the American people. Why doesn't McCain and his cronies' talk about that waste of a trillion dollars?

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Tushar

    The democracy in America has spoken; the majority has trusted President Obama and Democrats with the future of the country. This country needs someone who can cut through the bureaucracy and deliver results; deliver change. President Obama is working hard for us, Americans, and is delivering on his promises to the American people. If I have to choose between getting results and appeasing senators on the Hill, I would always opt for results.

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. chad

    How can it be considered bipartisanship if the democrats wrote a 1,000-plus page bill, then asked Republicans to comment quickly with revisions, then quickly vote on it ? No body has read that thing cover-to-cover. I guess the dems (the ones who didn't contribute to writing it) are the type of people who would sign a legal contract without reading it first.

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. Alan Fisher

    Let's not forget that it was McCain and the Republican administration and 6 years of Republican control of both houses in Congress that sent $ 1 billion to Iraq – and can anyone say that it was worth it? And on top of that, the Republican creation of a $multi-trillion debt – this was "generational theft".

    And on top of all of that, just a few days ago, all Republican senators, including John McCain, voted on $2 1/2 trillion of additional tax cuts – this is they "stealth" way of creating this huge debt and generational theft.

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  21. Betty

    Shut up McBush. You did nothing all your years in Washington. Now all of a sudden you have knowledge you didn't know you had. What an idiot. I live in Arizona and I will not be voting for this has been. Time to go home and retire. SEE YA JERK

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. Shawn

    If it were up to McCain, he would have used the bailout money to buy more clothes for Sarah Palin!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. Thomas Collins

    IF tax cuts are such a great way to help the Economy, why didn't republicans offer them to Wall street??? Oh, thats right, they really DON't ADD anything......

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Yanni4

    The “Country First” guy who brought Sarha Palin to lead this nation in time of crises. Who presided and played a roll in the leadership that resulted in the immeasurable wastage of human life and billions of dollars, both are American treasures for misguided war. He was telling us “the fundamental of the economy is strong” when everyone else is suggested otherwise or when obviously we were going down in an economic spiral. Isn’t these make credibility an issue here? Don’t you see hypocrisy too?

    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Norman

    The GOP for the past 8 years has done nothing positive for this country never mind the world.

    On most of the conservative talk shows I have heard nothing but negative blather about the new President. I do not even want to contemplate what the McCain/Palin Administration would have done. Tax breaks for the well heeled I guess.

    Glad I am a Democrat and voted for the current President.

    What have the Republicans done!!!!!!!!!!


    February 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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