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. Paul

    “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.”

    I think Obama has more urgent campaign promises to fulfill than having a sit down with McCain, who has admitted openly that economic policy was not his strong point.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Joe

    It is hard to tell if Mr. McCain is suffering from dementia or if it is just that he is so wealthy that he has no cares.
    Offer amnesty to 15,000,000 criminal alians who already cost us
    $30 billion+ per year to support them and their offspring. Amnesty will then allow another 15,000,000 additional in through chain migration.
    Then have us borrow more money from China to give to Mexico to prop up their failed corrupt government and fight drug cartels.

    Mr. McCain, thank God that you did not become president.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. nonamesteak

    I believe that McCain is true in the most sense, Obama should have waited on this package. The debt from this package compared to the war debt will be astronomical. The trillions of dollars spent on Iraq is going to generate money back to us now and in the future by production of materials and goods. Where as the democratic stimulis is once again going to give the pan handlers another crack at money with out working for it. So we wont see that 790 billion dollars back. It is very unfortunate!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Brian

    CNN- Clinton News Network. I guess it is not only the people who write for CNN but the people who read it as well. so far left they have no perspective on anything. Let's face it this country is in bad shape, not because of republicans, or democrats, but because of both. The stim bill is a waste and will only hurt our cause in the long run. Good intentions may be behind it but we need to learn that you can't throw money at a problem to fix it. The great depression should be a learning curve for us, the government tried to fix the economy then by overspending, and it failed. I hope it doesn't get that bad but I have little hope due to ALL politicians today.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. jj

    In general, I support Obama, but there is a problem with illegal immigration. I work for a medical facility, so there is only so much I may say under the law. 1. There is a language barrier. 2. There are citizens helping illegal immigrants. 3. There are what appears to be fake i.d.'s. 4. There is a program in WA state called the Alien Emergent Medical (AEM) which seems to incourage medical care for illegal immigrants, to the best of my knowledge. 5. Not only are the hundreds and thousands of dollars of medical services free to these people, but the copies of records and sometimes even the travel to a hospital is paid for-either by DSHS or the facility itself. 6. Medicare has started a new program to check bills for medical services. Maybe there needs to be a check of the identity of the patients getting free services.-at medical facilities and DSHS. Give medical care and then ARREST them. 8. Most other people and insurances pay.-With the exception of "AFLAC" (which ususally makes the patient pay for medical records. It is not certain if that eventually gets reimbursed.)–In short, there is a loop-hole in WA that is letting illegal immigrants get free medical care and all the perks that surround this...ie: free babies born in the US, free medical record copies, no taxes, etc. I'm all for a diverse society, but everyone has to do the paperwork!!

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. Martha

    McShame is up for re-election and simply appealing to the base he lost during the pres. elections.

    Arizonians need new ideas, foreclosures are rampant in his state, change the old partisan political scammers. This man had not a clue of reality.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. duh

    He says it's a bad beginning because it's not his way, which the American people resoundingly rejected on Nov. 4th.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Dixon

    Barack has done more in 3 weeks than any other president. He and his party ran up the debt, grew the government and started two wars. Someone has to pay for this. In my opinion the republicans are obstructing the process like they do when they are in trouble. They campained on the "do nothing" Congress. Yet when the congress tried to do anything it was blocked. Barack said he would invite all to the table. He did this and comprimised. According to the Republicans there are no jobs in education worth paying for, they call it pork. Of course Head start is "pork" since it doesn't include another bridge/s to nowhere. Keep it going Republicans and there will only be the hard core far right wing left in your party. McCain's actions since he lost show him to be who I thought he was, Party First.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. Bam

    Mccain is right on. Remember, almost half wanted Mccain to be President. Yes, Obama won, but it was real close. This should be a democracy, not a dictatorship. At least 6 of the 8 years Bush was in office the economy was good. The last two years when the democrats took over congress was when things declined. If Obama makes it 8 years, i bet i'll 8 years we will be behind.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Obama has done nothing but lie its nice to see someone call him out. Long live McCain a true patriot, and one of the greatest Americans ever. Sometimes it takes a voice to stand up to the brainwashed, koolaide drinking nitt witts on this website.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. Gerry

    McCain is hilarious, the GOP were invited to numerous meetings and didnt show up. The only way the GOP would have supported any stimulous bill is if it was entire tax cuts for the rich like they've done for the last 8 years.

    Bye the way after 8 years has McCain figured out yet whether he's for the Bush tax cuts or against them. Like everything else he keeps flip flopping on the issue. Doesw he now have an economic policy hed like to share with America-he didn't during the campaign.

    Must be all those houses and cars.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Tim (Boston)

    John McCain does not want Obama to succeed as other Republicans because he will need to prove that we'll need him to save us in the next election. America's health economically is to important to wish ill towards for political gain and self-interest. Shame on Republicans, only three of them were truly bi-partisan and willing to negotiate. Investing in the future of our economy is never pork. Immigration needs reform, immigrants our going to help save this country because we are not going to be successful in production of goods but of new ideas and inventions. So many things, America needs, and Republicans are just haulting everything with their selfishness.

    February 15, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. C W

    McCain is a doofus! If he and his party don't get what they want, they fault the Democrats for not being bipartisan.

    And the nerve to complain about adding to the deficit when it was George Bush & Company and their stupid, destructive, voodoo economic policies that wiped out the Clinton surplus and put us into this gigantic hole in the first place!

    I have absolutely no respect left for McCain. All he cares about is political gain for his party, at the expense of our country and citizens.

    Thank heavens we didn't elect him and Palin – now, that's a nightmare!

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Comical

    I am laughing at all these responses. I am an Indepedent and did not support either one of these guys. Obama is a career politician...He is not change to america only change from the Republicans. Nancy Pelosi and her democrats are only pushing through projects that they couldn't get through the past 8 years. Its all politics, not change.

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. Philip

    McCain did have one good idea in this debate about payroll tax reductions or elimination for a period of time which would have brought immediate relief. Save that, the Republicans are in such a freefall within their own vacuum that they do not even realize it. I think we can only hope that some of the moderates (like the 3 in the Senate) come forward and participate in governing. It is undeniable that they "improved" the final bill from their standpoint (and in the spirit of their political party's almost forgotten principles...) This is how it's supposed to work. President initiates. House does it's thing. Senate does it's thing and then it gets reconciled. The Republicans decided to sit it out in a feeble effort to "win" against Obama. We are watching the decline of a party that has lost its' way and is bereft of ideas...

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. NJ

    Wow you people don't get it....Obama was all talk while campaigning about how irresponsible the republicans were w/ their spending...then he goes and does the same thing. Have any of you taken a look in detail what was in this bill? New computers and cars for government officials...all a bunch of crap. Very little of this is really going towards our economy, that's why the Republicans wanted to shoot it down. You all are going to realize in a few years that this wasn't a good idea, just wait.

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. kevin

    Obama has done nothing but lie its nice to see someone call him out. Long live McCain a true patriot, and one of the greatest Americans ever. Sometimes it takes a voice to stand up to the brainwashed, koolaide drinking nitt witts on this website.

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. aargh

    Obama hasn't a clue what he's doing!!! He proves it day after day . What a sham......

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Ed

    Bush Admin has done nothing since the crisis started last year. They had no clue what to do. They were so helpless. For the country, Republicans, please help Obama clean up the mess Bush made. Bush is really a shame to the country.

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. bob

    Wow. Democrats really can't take any criticism at all. All these comments from grownups acting like little spoiled brats. Scary.

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Travis


    This just in: The Republican Party continues to lead the nation in BS, after continued statements of unity and support, constant revenge and sabotage tactics coupled with outright lies have once again landed the Big Elephant the Tantrum award, much to the detriment of the nation.

    I'm no democrat, fiercely independant, but it's time for this party to die. Their addiction to power after the last 8 years will drag us all down into the grave in their deathgrip.

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. HelpAmerica

    Quit complaining about John McCain. Everyone knows he senile. Look at all the people he probably would have hired, Joe the Plumber – Commerce Secretary, Sarah Palin – Vice President, Rush Limbaugh – Secretary of State. John Thain – Secretary of Treasury, and Ann Coulther – Secretary of Human and Health Services. Consider yourself lucky that we had the sense to vote for President Obama.

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. Dan

    What is scary is the number of people on this blog who seem to be OK with higher taxes and European style socialism. Take a look at the original economic stimulus bill which Obama and the Democrats wanted. Thank God McCain and his fellow Republicans rejected it unanimously. Obama is a one-termer.

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. J Taylor

    Blaming Obama for others' choices makes as much sense as the past few years of Republican behavior.
    Keep it up, y'all!

    February 15, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. armchairprotester

    Yeah, Party First!!!

    Talk about stating the obvious. Of course it was a bad beginning, Bush left Obama a mess and the Republican Party are simply being obstructionists. Why would we, the tax payer, want to throw billions more to Republican tax cuts for the top 1%. It didn't work before and it will not work again and their old ideas should rightfully be off the negotiation table. Get a clue!!

    This is economic terrorism fashioned by yours truly, the GOP.

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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