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. Mike

    McCain is a seasoned politicial and knows how to behave himself – even in a defeat, and unlike most of the comment posters here. It's politics, guys, and the more you hurt the opponent when you are on the top, the more you'll be hurt when the fortune changes. Both parties are excellent examples of that. Obama is not a fool and is trying to get to the center, and I am wondering how long it will take him to alienate the very posters on this thread that are so anti-McCain now.

    February 15, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. L. Song

    McCain is a dirty dealer. He has done everything he can to mess with Obama as Obama tries to help our economy while the he and the republicans – millionaires nearly all of them – play politics and make trouble. It is utterly DISGUSTING and McCain looks like a sore-loser, power hungry, game player – while America SUFFERS. Thank you, bilionaire, John McCain for all your help and all your great ideas as you do nothing but get in the way and spread ugly energy.

    February 15, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Mark

    Senator McCain
    From the comments here, none of them seem to care about "generational theft". Perhaps this can be attributed to the past performance in Washington of "generational theft" of our Social Security. No one listened then either.
    No folks, this is not sour grapes, this is Washington status quo.

    February 15, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. Gary

    Honestly, sounds like "sour grapes" from Mr. McCain. More concerning is that it sounds like politics as usual. Usual meaning there's no progress being made! When will these fat cats in Washington begin to see that people really need help.

    February 15, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. Mr. Industrial Michigan

    What would McCain and Palin have done differently? Palin would not have gotten any respect in Washington and McCain knows nothing about the economy. All of the people that are in McCain's economic category does not believe the economy is truly in crisis. How can you really think that things are bad if you own 10 mansions. He would not have done anything positive for average americans

    February 15, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Hilary Smith

    The billion-dollar financiers responsible for this "melt down" should be prosecuted under the Patriot Act for economic terrorism.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. IndependentTogether

    Let's not kid ourselves. McCain and the Republicans want tax cuts for the wealthy and zero spending on job creation. Anything short of that is partisan by their definition. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for the country) Obama saw through that madness and is moving us along a more sane path.

    McCain, a grateful nation thanks you for losing the presidential election.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. tom

    Why does anyone care about what McCain has to say anymore. He destroyed his credibility and career with his disasterous campaign. Since when does he support anything that benefits the average person? Just go away old man.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Mike

    Sore loser. McCain is touting the failed policies of the defunct Publicans.


    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. ripon

    Oh my god! who cares what this old man thinks? And as for the GOP: a useless, anti- american bunch of losers who put their party ahead of their nation. Not a single rep voted for the stimulus package: unbelievable!

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. Frank

    More trash talk from Obama's rude Liberal lemmings...

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. little johny

    If anybody needs to retire, it should be people like Kennedy, who is unable to make his own decisions and still votes on how all of our futures will look like. I understand he is sick, but if I would get sick like that, and miss most of my work days, I would no longer be employed.
    We need young people making the decisions now , ones that are in touch with reality.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. don

    The GOP is on the verge of complete collapse. With someone like McCain around they are almost certain to implode.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. TH

    McCain is just a sore looser! He will continue to act like some child throwing a tantrum just cause the American people let him know real fast – HE WAS NOT THE MAN FOR THE JOB!

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. John

    Republicans want Obama to fail.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. WRP

    Nothing more than sour grape talking points. Does McCain really think that being the minority party allows Republicans to set the agenda or frame the overall structure of legislation? In fact, when the outlines of the recovery bill were revealed, Republicans said they were pleasantly surprised it contained as much as it did in tax cuts. Then Obama met with House and Senate Republicans at the Capitol, talked with them one-on-one, and invited them to the White House. Then many of the items the GOP objected to were removed from the bill. Then moderate Senate Republicans worked with Democrats to further cut back Democratic spending priorities, like aid to states. After being heard and accommodated, still the GOP couldn't muster a single vote in the House and only 3 in the Senate on a bill of great importance to begin our economic recovery. Maybe McCain can remind us of the number of times Bush extended a genuine hand of cooperation to Democrats (or Republicans for that matter) instead of just demanding everything go his way or not at all. Answer: zero.

    On the "generational theft" comment: What does McCain think trillion+ tax cuts primarily for corporations and the wealthy were – you know, the ones he famously once opposed but now wants to carve in stone? What does he think about reducing revenue while starting an enormously expensive war in Iraq? All the money for both is money borrowed from our kids – why isn't any of that "generational theft"? Oh, that's right – all that deficit spending was in defense of our country and way of life, and you were branded unpatriotic to speak against it. But rebuilding our economy, fixing the financial system, putting people back to work, and investing in our future leadership position in the world obviously don't count as critical or patriotic to Republicans. The GOP has readily and willingly mortgaged our nation's future economic viability for unnecessary adventures in other countries, but is hopelessly blinded by ideology to make meaningful investments here at home. Hypocrites.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Shawn

    You people are crazy if you think this stimulus package is going to help get this country get out of financial crisis. Keep thinking that Obama is "The Man" while people continue to lose jobs and their homes. There are so many things included in this package that do nothing to help a struggling economy or to create jobs. Believe what you want, but that is fact!

    What a laugher!

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. TexasGB

    Sure, 787 billion dollars is expensive, everyone knows that. Sure, it was not a bipartisan bill because no republicans supported it. I can understand that both your parties are poles apart ideoligically. I also wonder if there was any deadline against which you guys (the republicans) were working to ensure that you could come up with something in-between that would help the american people or would you have just taken all the time in the world, just sit around a table and "negotiate" knowing fully that you will never agree to the other side even if there are some inherent benefits. Everyone knows that there are atleast somethings (spending on infrastructure, education and alternate fuels) in Pres. Obama's bill that is good and could possibly create some jobs, financial support to state governments so that they can save some jobs and continue essential services (medical, law enforcement and education), give back atleast a little bit back to the tax payer as taxbreaks (400$ for individuals, 800$ for families, first time home owners 8000$ tax incentive, new auto buyers tax break etc). So its a shame that out of these wide ranging aspects that are in the bill you could not find anything that you guys could pick up to improve on!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Mike-WA

    Typical Christian Repulican Church Party loon. I swear the I can see Rush Limbaugh holding the puppets strings for these guys.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. anonymous

    We don't care about your opinion, John McCain. If we did, you would be our president (god help us). And you know WHY this bill wasn't bipartisan? Because all you republican senators in your 5000 dollar suits apparently don't care about the millions suffering in our country right now. Let me ask you, John, what are YOU doing to help our economy? Nothing. Will this stimulus package help? I haven't a clue. Hopefully. But at least the democrats are DOING SOMETHING about it. So just go home, John, no one cares.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Peter

    It's real simple folks – We have the "Yes, we can" on one side and "No, we can't" on the other. Greatness is built on "Yes, we can." Failure flounders about mumbling "No, we can't." and "I hope he fails." Misery loves company.

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Fran

    Wow! Hearing John's message makes me all the more glad he is NOT in office and a LOT more proud that I voted for Barack Obama. John, would you like a little cheese with that whine?

    February 15, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. Bob

    Wow ... a lot of gloating here. That's fine, you won. Follow Obama over a cliff.

    This "stimulus" is a trillion dollars of government growth. Save and create Government jobs, spend more on government programs. Fund ACORN but don't help small businesses in any substantive way. What a joke.

    February 15, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. Dano

    It's amazing to me how many posters here seem to believe that since Obama won the election, all Republicans should abandon their long-held principles. Why in the world should anyone vote for something they feel is flawed and economically dangerous? The Obama congregation need to grow some thicker skin. This is just the beginning of the criticism that will come this man's way when this 'stimulus" plan fails to stimulate. Explain to me how an economic "stimulus" bill would include 1 billion dollars to fix the 2010 Census. Tax and spend. There you go again.

    February 15, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Patrick

    Govenment doesn't create jobs. Why is this so hard for people to understand?? There was tons of pork in the bill that isn't necessarily bad, but it was tagged on to this legislation for economic stimulus. This is pet project stuff that shouldn't be in a bill:

    - $100 million for the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program
    - $200 million to the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Program
    - $300 million for "Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs"
    - $900 million for the IRS for the "Limitation on Administrative Expenses"
    - $1 million for the Railroad Retirement Board for administrative costs
    - $2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Act
    - $50 million for Health and Human Services to carry out injury prevention programs
    - $1.1 billion for studies on the effectiveness of different medical treatments - $200 million to upgrade labs and facilities for the Department of Agriculture "to improve workplace safety and mission-area efficiencies"
    - $10 million for urban canal inspection
    - $16 billion to pay for student financial aid
    - $1 billion to pay for the U.S. Census
    - $600 million to pay for a fuel-efficient federal auto fleet
    - $650 million for the Digital Converter Box Program to help the constantly delayed transition from analog television
    - $485 million to the Forest Service for "hazardous fuels reduction and hazard mitigation activities in areas at high risk of catastrophic wildfire"
    - Up to $1 billion for "summer activities" for youths as old as 24
    - $40 million for the occupational research agenda
    - $3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control wellness programs and vaccinations
    - $410 million for Indian health facilities
    - $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstrations

    February 15, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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