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. vote him out!

    John McCain officially announced a 2010 campaign to hold on to his Senate seat Tuesday, sending supporters a fundraising message asking for help with “a tough re-election challenge.”

    Please donate to any democrat who runs against him next time.

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. debbie

    And McCain's solution would be? More tax cuts for the rich so the wealth could trickle down into our grateful hands? More deregulation of industries so the greedy corporations and their fat-cat executives could rape us again?

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Len Johnson

    Making lenders grant bad home loans was congressional, not presidential. Who in congress took money in exchange for this disastrous legislation?

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Kim

    Wow! I believe McCain commented that the "bispartisan polictics" occured when the Republicans were running the country. He's calling out Obama (you know the guy we elected because he was going to CHANGE Washington) – it looks like the same old thing that most Americans are tired of...whoever's in charge ignores the voice of the minority in the name of being loyal to their party instead of being loyal to the people of this country. BTW, McCain is an elected official – should he leave his senate position just because he wasn't elected president? The only thing that gives this country a chance is when both sides work together to come up with a compromise and whether you voted for him or not, you have to agree that McCain crossed the aisle many times in the last 8 years to achieve some ideal compromises (i.e. Kennedy, Feingold, Lieberman, etc...)

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Dave-in-Georgia

    Neither John McCain, nor any Republican, has anything worthy to say. They acted like spoiled, bad children during their heyday 2001 – 2006. They not only left the door open to the hen house, they invited foxes into the pen to do what foxes do best.

    The Republican Party and its concept of economics (lowering taxes to the point of almost nonexistence, trickle-down theory which has never worked, voting against or blocking everything which would help average citizens, excessive federal spending during the 6-year Republican controlled era, turning a near trillion dollar gain in 2000 to a deficit in 2009 that's in the trillions, failure to regulate Wall Street and financial services because, "They will regulate themselves." Ha! Greed and irresponsibility should never be unchecked!) is absurd.

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. David Evan

    Only the three Republicans who voted for the Economic Recovery Act speak for me. The rest of them are as fossilized in their philosophy as the foreign fuel they freely burn. McCain has turned from a thoughtful man into a figurehead made of this unyielding stone.

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Paul

    Democrats compromise? Talk about a party voting in lockstep with Pelosi and Reid. Even they are undermining Obama. I'd like to see the inexperienced Obama take the bull by the horns and remind them, he is the President, and where he preached the last two years about "compromise" and "reachng across the aisle", what a crock that turned out to be. Talk about bad judgement. To have so many cabinet appointees bacxk out oir kicked out in 3 weeks must be a new record. When you look at your own approval ratings, you think you are the messiah, and can ram anything and everyone down people's throats. The worst choice of all, was Daschle, who was voted out of office by the voters in his own state, wheil he was majority leader. All the young punk voters don't realize there was never anyone more against a President than Daschle. An now the Democrats say, "Give him Obama a chance." Talk about on the job training.

    Paul in Arizona

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. Dave

    what a loser

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Steve

    We should listen to a man who picks Sarah Palin to be VP?

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Obama 2012

    McCain the one that said the fundamentals of the economy are sound, and also that I must admit I do not know much about the economy. ? I think he is in the second stage of a delussion

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. lesley miller

    McCain is absolutely ridiculous! Everyone has already summarized the reasons why. May I just add that he suggested Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard's terminated CEO, as a person the President could have looked to. Come on McCain...

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

    John McCain and his hoodlum pals in the Republican party raped America for benefit of their Corporate donors, (Halliburton,Citibank, Bof A ,Goldman Sacs a.ka. Hank Paulsons's baby,Insurance industry,Exxon,Mobil,Shell oil,etc etc etc) for last 8 years.

    Now this retarded idiot has the gall to criticize
    President Obama who is trying to help regular American folks so they can have food ,shelter and
    If Mr McCain could be lucky enough to be the sole of Obama's left shoe ,his life would have had some worthwhile purpose.

    The disgusting Republican party will meet a rapid demise as they represent what is Totally non -American !!!!


    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. Mi Amiggo

    I won't expect anything less than criticism from Sen. McCain. Instead of concentrating his efforts on saving American jobs and 'The American Dream', Sen. McCain uses the Media to criticize, with no common sense, the President. Please, Sen. McCain, for one moment, please accept the fact that Obama is now the President and move forward with protecting American jobs and the American economy. Isn't enough that we are losing the economic battle with each other and the world? We need to re-build America and make sure what happened in 2008 does not happen again. This does not happen if BOTH republicans and democrats keep attacking each other in the media.

    February 15, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. zorba

    Breathtakingly clueless. Thank the Lord that he lost the election. Amen.

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. Keith

    Bitter, bitter, bitter.

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. mary

    McCain sounds like a bitter loser. Truth be told, he never wanted Obama to succeed. The people of Arizona can have him. I'm grateful that the rest of the country does not. He has nothing to offer except more calls for tax cuts that don't help the economy, although they may help the McCain's bottom-line.

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. Mat

    I've never seen so many people so happy about spending money they don't have. Let's all run off the cliff together, all the while we can gleefully yell "Hope and Change".

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Rattlesnake Bob

    John McCain is the same mean spirited, crotchety old man that he's always been, but this time he is undermining the presidency at a time when a show of unity in Congress could have been uplifting to all Americans. Obama went to the Republicans and they gave him the brush off. One of the most subversive groups in the United States today is the reactionary wing of the Republican Party. These radicals live in castles and fly about the country like kings, yet advocate austerity and conservatism for the rest of us. Sorry John, Americans are tired of high rolling politicians posing as conservative old Dutch Uncles nit picking anything progressive and anything that might give everyday wage earners a little hope. Put a sock in it!

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. L. Ron Hubbard

    McSame is a grouchy old loser. Even his pal Joementum backed the stimulus bill – he knows which way the wind is blowing, but old man McSame just keeps his head in the sand.

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Kevin

    I don't know if John read the article that accompanied this one. It had to do with people starving to death in Alaska under the dutiful watch of his former running mate.
    Lets remind ourselves that the republicans created this situation, and that we wouldn't need this stimulus package if McCain and Bush had done it right the first time back in the fall when McCain "suspended" his campaign.
    Way to go John.

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Ann

    This guy is so boring. He as well as the rest of the Republicans still don't get it. They lost! And why are we in the mess that we are in? Because they have been absolutely irresponsible, have the wrong philosophy, and the American people have rejected them. They lack the leadership, skills, intelligence, and wisdom to lead this country. Instead of trying to fix the problems they created, they are full of resentment and trying to figure ways they can block any success for Obama and his administration. This is not going to get them back in the lead. They are hurting our country, have hurt our country, and will continue to hurt our country, until they wake up and try to unite with the Democrats and see the possibilities that can happen. The world is watching, the Americans are fed up, and we want change. Let it happen.

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. John

    Take a look at John's record. He, more than any Senator in modern history, has crossed this party line and voted based on his evaluation of what is best for the country. Sure he lost the election because the GOP was toast in the shadow of Bush, the war, etc. That does not diminish that he is a man of great honor whose career of making courageous tough calls without checking first checking polls or what his party's position is. I do not always agree with him, but he has certainly earned our respect and appreciation for his life of service. We certainly need to encourage our legislators, especially our Senators, to rise above party lines and take principled stands. Our country needs statesmanship in the worst way. Squashing debate and involvement of representatives of 47% of the US citizens in the largest gov't spending bills in history (the USA's total $ exposure now exceeds the Worlds' GDP) is really dumb - especially for the first major act of our first post-partisanship president. ... only time will tell who has the best solutions, the Dems would be be smart politically to craft truly bi-partisan bills and share the "credit" in case it trurns our to be "blame" when it does or does not work as hoped/planned. We truly need to pull together and this can only happen if the party in power heeds the message in Obama's post-partisan "change" message.

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. BH

    Wow you guys are so naive. You really thing anyone saw the credit crunch coming and that the mortgage industry was going to fall apart? Bush was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was going to happen I don't care who was on watch. My wife and I have worked in the mortgage industry for years and we saw the things that were going on but nobody wanted to stop it because they were getting their pockets nice and fat. We will recover and hopefully Obama will get us there but you can't lay all this at the hands of Bush and the republicans.

    February 15, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Nancy

    What is the matter with these Republicans?
    They are having a problem realizing that they LOST the election.
    They are no longer in control although they act as if they should be.
    They voiced concerns and put forth suggestions for the recovery package which were taken under advisement and some were implemented. But that did not satisfy them...they only wanted more and they it became apparent that they never had any intention of voting for the package.
    It is easy to go on television and profess bipartisanship and woe is me attutude when it is apparent that the Republicans have no intention of co-operating with President Obama...... a strategy they will come to regret because the American people have spoken for change not more of the same.

    February 15, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. makes sense

    In McCain's luxurious reality, we don't need a stimulus package.

    After all, he thinks the state of the economy is still strong.

    February 15, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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