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. Gene Kannee

    McCain is a bad loser. He lost becasuse the American people didn;t trust his plans.. He and the Republican party are still trying to sell the failed policies of the Bush admistraton,.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Glen

    John: You call what Obama has done..."generational theft"...gee...wasn't the Katrina failure a generatinal theft.

    February 15, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. TamarS

    Where was McCain's smart mouth when Bush took us into a nose dive? He is really the disgrunled old man we were smart NOT to elect.

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. John S

    How much is this going to costs us in the long run? Our government is playing crisis management just as consumers have done for years.
    We must look further then a few months along to solve problems.
    How much interest is this going to cost American taxpayer's besides the actual debt? Some how American's keep forgetting about the fact the government is borrowing this money from countries like China.
    They will make money on our stupid spending. We are so busy supporting our political parties that we lack any common sense to problem solving. Even many comments here come from party lines instead of actually thinking about what really is a solution to our over spending and poor job creation.

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. Rich

    Didn't I read somewhere that McCain didn't even vote on the bill?..yeah like he really cares one way or the other..the guy is a fraud, always has been

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. barbara Apgar

    Mr. King- appreciate your new show on Sunday. Just a comment please. Would appreciate if you and the other moderators would ask the Republicans what they would recommend for the stimulus plan. We know they favor tax cuts but let's hear what they specifically recommend. It gets old to hear them criticize the plan but not offer specific plans of their own. You and others seem to not follow up on specifics. President Obama is being criticized for not making specifics known.
    Ask the Republicans: What would you do if you were Pres Obama? Tax cuts? What else? Thanks for pushing the points we all want to hear. Put them on the spot. Don't let them get away with just saying the plan is deficient.
    B Apgar, MD

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Steven

    I can NOT believe the people posting on this board!!! Show some respect for Mr McCain he is a true american servant. I voted for Obama and I am already now thinking that I have made a mistake. I guess time will tell but please people don't divide our Country!

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Sciengr

    John represents another age, one that has past, his opinions and decision-making is not appropriate to the challenges of the future. We have an excellent leader in Obama because he appreciates the magnitude of problems facing us and is willingness to blaze a new path. I'm 50 years old moderate that knows the strategies of the past will not fit the future. John and his generation need to step as side, they're just not up to the task.

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Paul H

    Whether you like McCain or not he's right! You can call him an old man, or say he ran a terrible campaign, say what every you want about him.
    He is right on this issue.
    The Democrats had an agenda, and they pushed it through without any thought at all.
    Our voice was not heard.

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. terry,va

    I would rather pick sh@t with the chickens than get an the draw with the rest of you crying babies. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps like this country was founded on. Semper Fi

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. PIssed off Republican

    McCain please sit down and shut up. You and your friends did nothing to help with the stimulus package. Obama is off to a great beginning.

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. Mark

    Only further reason why there needs to be term limits in Congress... we need to clean house of the old-fodder.

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. Mar

    McNasty is at it again!

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Akash

    Layoff mccain and foreclose all his houses and then ask him if he still supports the stimulus. He once again is not aware of common people in america. govt is for people and not for "rich" people as per his definition if making 5 million or more.

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. The party of NO!

    I guess it was not Generational Theft when McCain shut down his Presidential Campaign to go back to Washington to get that wonderful $700 billion dollar TARP bill through...there is absolutely no credibility with McCain nor the Republican "BARROW AND SPEND" party from 2000 through 2008"

    Who can even listen to this and give McCain and the Republican Party any credibility!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. Gerry McGarvey

    Do the Republicans understand they lost the election? Does Senatoe( not president) McCain know he is not in charge? The Republicans do not get to set the agenda, they did that for the last 8 years and look where they got us.

    February 15, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. Hope

    Wow! You liberals are angry. Are you saying the republicans should have voted for a bill that has many, many flaws? Are you saying that the republicans don't care about people being laid off? This stimulus package can potentially destroy are economy.

    Wake up. The novelty of Obama is over.

    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. enough already

    who cares what this out-of-touch old man thinks?

    let him go back to one of his 25 homes and cry in his Geritol!

    He is just upset because we are not invading countries and making more wars (which is what he mainly wanted)

    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. John Everett

    John McCain, was it not you who lost the last election by a landslide. How dare you tell anyone how to act . The president went to the republican caucus and was told that only tax cuts would do for them. We have tried that crap for the past eight years and look where it got us. You wanted deregulation, you got it. You wanted tax cuts you got it.

    The economy is in the toilet, yeah we got it alright.

    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. Dale

    It sounds as though McCain is sharing Rush Limbaugh's desire for Obama to fail. The Republicans will do anything possible to achieve their goal of regaining political power, even if it means destroying our country.

    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. Will

    The time for bipartisanship is over...to me, the Republicans have spoken and they don't want to sit down at the table. I think Obama and the Democrats have been more than cordial. I just hope the American people see the game they are playing (delay, delay, whine, and hope things work out bad for Obama and the Democrats) and they (the American people vote them out so the Democrats can have a 60% majority in the Senate! Let's try to get something done within these next four years, even if we have to bring the Republicans along kicking and screamming.

    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  22. Dobbs

    The GOP is on life support. The old guys like Taft and Dirksen are spinning in their graves. Conservatives need to form a new party with new leadership and new ideas. Get rid of the hypocritical dinosaurs like McCain and join the 21st century. They are now a hindrance for the human race which like it or not is fighting for survival.

    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. RG

    McCain does not persuade, for he belongs to the Vietnam Era, the press should let him RIP. (Retire in Peace)

    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. a southern bell




    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. David

    This is so funny. If the Republicans were in power in Congress and McCain was President, do we really believe there would be any spending allowed in a Stimulus package? NO way, the Republicans would have pushed through their tax cut only bill and called it a day. Tax cuts will not help all the unemployed and people who lost their homes. Businesses would take those tax cuts and bank them, not rehire anyone.
    We need powerful solutions to this crisis, not old worn out ideas like McCain and the rest of those old stogie Repubs in Congress.

    February 15, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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