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. Susan

    Even though I did not vote for Obama..........he is off to a great start and cares about getting our economy back on track.

    I am glad he is our President.

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. Cathy

    sore loser...

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Jan

    If the stimulus package was lean and mean the Republicans couldn't have opposed it and it would have been a HUGE achievement for the Obama administration. Since Dems couldn't resist throwing pork into it the GOP now has a major talking point that will carry them for the next 4 years. It really doesn't matter that Repubs do the exact same thing.

    The Republican attack machine is the greatest force in politics today. It will actually do some GOOD in the next 2 years because it will force the transparency and reform in government that would not have happened spontaneously (despite what Obama might think.) They might even prevent the Jimmy Carter days from coming back!

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. SSgt Bourland

    You all need to shut up!

    McCain at least would have kept his word and not lied.

    Obama straight up lied.....McCain would not have done that......

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Meka


    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Barbara Campbell

    Keep spouting the propaganda of your puppet-masters, McCain. They came close to destroying America in order to line their own pockets, and lemmings like you helped them do it.

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. Robert Cooper

    It is amazing how this man McCain can pontificate when his party was in control as this debacle began. Bipartisanship? No such word in the Bush administrative lexicon. What would John have to offer had he been elected president? More of the same discredited policies. He rightfully earned the moniker "McSame." Maverick? Give me a flipping break. The ideas coming from the Republican party are as bankrupt as the nation is about to become without serious involvement by President Obama, and those that fully understand that doing nothing – or following the same failed policies of that failure Bush,is not an option.

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. Amanda

    Can we please stay on the issue.....people need to quit bad mouthing Mccain and listen. We need to focus on creating jobs and getting out of this trouble most americans are in financially. Bad mouthing people are not going to fix these issues. Does anyone realize that with this stimulus bill your kids and grand kids are the ones going to pay for it. This is not free money the goverment is giving away so it needs to create jobs and do some good. People need to wake up quit bad mouthing everyone...because let's face it none of us were there for the talks and if all these people bad mouthing Mccain think they can go into Congress and do it better then why don't they. This is a hard job and it comes with hard choices and there are so many things that go into that most people don't realize or even know about. People need to grow up and if they think they can fix it then maybe they need to step up to the plate and do it instead of sitting at home watching tv and playing on the computer. This bill has things in it that are not going to help and are wasteful and those things the democrats wanted so how are they any better than anyone else when they are wasting money in a time that we can't afford for it to be wasted. We are in make or brake mode people.

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. faulpelz

    May I, please, keep repeating the fact: none of this oblivious rhetoric was ever brought up in respect to the billions spent on a needless war in Iraq. Republicans still have not addressed the issue that future generations will be responsible for a couple of trillion. Address this first, turkeys!

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. Kent

    You think maybe he's afraid that after all the doubts in the right wing owe whether he was a true conservative and then losing the WH he now feels that he has to tow the "Limbaugh" line? Needs to prove that he's one of them so that the Conservatives wont run someone against him in the next Senate race. As someone who was a fence sitter when McCain first announced his intention to run, Im thankful he wasnt elected. Truly, I expected more from him.

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. RO

    McCain? Shame on you! I bet you are hoping for the worse for your opponent...he sure did reach across the aisle to try to work things out with you and the Republicans. I am getting sick of the Republicans' attitudes..

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. Shediac

    Wow it's unbelievable the press is letting the Republicans play the "Gee the Democrats are spending the next generations money". This is the party that added more to the national dept than all previous administrations put together!

    February 15, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. Kevin Belzer

    I can't believe how many of the comments here talk about republican vs. Democrat.
    How about the fact that Obama, the president we voted for (fellow democrats!!) stood in front a large contingent of press and citizens and said "tomorrow Geitner will tell our plan" and when pressed for details Obama responded with "I don't want to steal his thunder"..
    OMG – did you see Geitner the next day..... What a freaking joke.
    Are you kidding me..?? The guy failed to pay his taxes- still got the job, then embarrased the administration we all voted for, and he is still on the job. I wonder why people are backing out of administration jobs that Obama is offering them? Maybe because they sat down with some current members of the administration, and realized they don't know what to do, they are still hungover from the "YAY – we are finally really in charge" party. Obama better turn it around quickly, I am already out of work, and my kids aren't hungry yet. But we are getting there quickly.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. John in Tampa

    John McCain is right about a good deal of this. After 8 years of living off scraps a lots of Dems bellied up to the trough on this pakage to make up for lost time. A lot of that could have waited. A package that concentrated on job creation would have improved things enough that then we could afford the extras they forced up front instead.
    However, they are mostly good things unto themselves, and being safety nets and such probably won't contribute to further erosion. All they are is, as McCain calls them, burdens on the future.
    But A package WAS necessary. And in the long haul, breaking the spiral now is as relevant to the future–even a couple generations away–as the additional debt. That is, the faster we recover so that we can tackle that debt, the faster it will be paid down. In economics (which is NOT McCain's specialty) everything is trade-offs. Every opportunity has an opportunity cost, which is what you didn't do instead with your resources.
    A few hundred people managed to get us to where the future was screwed either way, but better we face it head-on than do nothing.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Pat

    I like how everyone says that "We didn't vote for you!" Umm, about 46% of Americans did. Obama does not have this huge mandate like many of you here would like to think, nor does the vast majority agree with this plan.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Kaye -Jacksonville FL

    McCain, Bohner, Cantor, McConnell, Steele – they should get a show on Comedy Central....because everyone but their right-wing nut stuck-in-the-ReaganBush-rut base thinks they're a huge joke.

    What's so terribly sad is that you know they're praying that Obama fails – it's their only hope of survival. So they'll bring on their ugly, unyielding partisanship – screaming "no fair" from the rooftops – they have NO intention of trying to save our country, they're only trying to save themselves.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. Ted

    Short of a blanket acceptance of a Repub package, there could be no compromising with them. Funny that McCain, who LOST, appears to suggest that his party somehow had a right to ignore the will of the people, and vote for another trickle down project. Polls reflect that the majority of people support the bill, and even more support Obama. And, the lowest approval rating in the US, even by Repub's standards, belongs to the Congressional Repubs. Less than 30 percent approval rating suggests you might want to reconsider your actions. Given that 25 percent of Americans believe in "Angels," Repubs are at an all time low and need to get out of the way.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. Lala-Waxhaw NC

    Wow it never ends with Mccain........ He should be fearful... he will lose his seat in Arizona. He almost lost this time

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. Tennessee

    Mr. McCain, Instead of saying that President Obama has done something wrong why don't you tell us what should be done. The American people want to have jobs and security. President Obama is sincere in trying to help Americans. All you want to do is "bash" what he is doing. I sincerely hope that he makes a difference. Republicans need to get a grip of what the American people are going through. You, Mr. McCain could not possibly know.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  20. Utah for OBAMA

    You make me sick! Why don't you go do some wolf hunting with your lovely Sarah Palin and never come back!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. Aaron

    CNN sucks. Look at all these people commenting. CNN is clearly a liberal media. There isn't a single comment coming in for support of John McCain or even opposing Obama. Well, here's the first to DISAGREE with Obama. I disagree with him. I think he's making a mistake and this country is going to suffer for it. This country is so in debt and so is the majority of Americans, which caused this mess. American's need to GET OUT OF DEBT.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. Juan

    It was all but 3 Republicans who lacked bipartisanship. So this time around they got a taste of what we had to endure over the past administration: moving ahead with an agenda without support from the other aisle.

    This is an urgent matter; we do not have the luxury of reconciling party philosophies. I hope in the future cooperation and compromise will be the order of business when time isn’t so precious.

    The biggest statement of this past election is that we the people want change. Even McCain jumped on that bandwagon.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Buckeye

    goodbye Republican Party...

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. John

    For those of you on this page namely Elle who want to keep spouting off about this Socialist crap,please give it a rest. You are only part of the sore loser group. If you and your republican cronies would give this man half a chance to correct what has happened over the last 20 or so years because of republican control maybe we will have a better place to live. I can guarantee you that after President Obama's run as president is over he wont be looked upon as the worst president in the history of this country as his predecessor is. It hasn't even been a whole month yet people give the man a chance did you think he could fix the republican mess that quick? This is going to take the majority of his first term so lets wait and see. All of the quick fixes over the last 20 years had led us into this and if we keep going down the road of republican quick fixes we are never going to get anywhere. Just remember all of this republican BS in causing these stalemates when the next election comes up. Lets get the republicans who don't want to help and who want to continue with the same pattern as before out of office and lets vote in the right people for the job ahead.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Sharon

    Of course he's going to say he's doing a bad job – he's a sore loser. He's old and out of touch with america. AND, he's afraid he's going to lose one of his 8 houses b/c he'll end up paying more taxes. Boo hoo. retire already mccain. Republicans are done ruling with scare tactics and the american people spoke in November. get over it.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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