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. Coonsey

    Once again I ask. Why is anybody even talking to this man? This is the same man that said, "the fundamentals of our economy are sound".

    Now he claims to know what will harm or fix it?

    A bit hypocritical in my view.

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Deborah

    I find it interesting that all John McCain wants to do is sit down and neogitate how long would that have taken. Months or a year the American economy does not have that long.

    We tried it the Republican way for the last 8 years and you can see were that got us.

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. tageis

    Question – have any of you who commented on this thread bothered to LOOK at this bill? If you had you would see things crossed out – changes out to the side. This bill MIGHT work but it was rushed and Americans need to stop looking to government for the solution. Question: who took the loans that caused this mess? Oh yeah, the American people!
    McCain was right this bill did not use the best ideas of both parties.
    You can be American and disagree with the President!

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Roger Stephen Roth

    Well John McCain do us a favor and give Obama a break since hes only been president for a little less than a month now! How is this a positive contribution you are making McCain criticizing Obama's work in order to help turn the USA economy around? The stimulus package will help create jobs for Americans and help put spending back into the public sector and encourage consumers to spend more lifting the economy back to its feet.

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Kathryn, Santa Barbara, CA

    Where have Senator McCain and the Republicans been for the last 8 years?

    Who inherited a treasury surplus, peace and a booming economy from President Clinton and then squandered it away into trillion dollar debt, 2 wars, greed and removed all controls from Wall Street and the Banks?

    Who threw the Constitution out the window with Patriot Acts I and II?

    Who voted with Bush ever single time?

    Who won't lift a finger to help this country?

    Who haven't come up with one single idea on how to turn this country around financially, how to pull out of Iraq, how to win the war on terror, how to reform Health Care, how to re-vamp Education or how to keep people in their homes? The Republicans, that's who.

    Come 2010 Republicans are going to lose even more seats because – you can’t fiddle while the country is burning, Senator McCain.

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Hey, McCain, shut the heck up and go home. We know your garbarge, and we voted against it. The GOP didn't begin to respond to Obama's overtures. Obama is doing what he promised, trying to solve problems, and the GOP is doing what it always does–obstruct good laws and bow down to big industry. No thanks, Grumpy!

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Donna Hussung

    Sour Grapes McCain! If you really wanted to win you wouldn't have chosen "just another pretty face with NO experience from freakin Alaska!! Now that she's gotten a taste of the lime light we are going to have to listen to her sad attempt of speaking for YEARS to come!! Thanks a LOT!

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. Jim

    Yes, bad beginning, the one given to him by the republicans... And that is all I am gonna say about that...

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Tom

    Well I would say a bad beginning is far better than no beginning like McCain had. McCain and his party are getting in the way of pulling this country out of the economic nose dive its in. They created and are part of the problem not part of the solution.

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Kevin Belzer

    How about we subsidize some of the stimulus monies by having the IRS audit each and every member of Congress, and the Senate for the past 3 years tax returns. (we'll let them all slide for the years prior to that).
    Give the general public a break for the 2 years or so it will take to audit our legislators. Include all members of Obama's staff, all members Bush's staff, and anyone ever considered for a position in the two cabinets.
    I'd bet we'd find at least $100 million dollars in back taxes and penalties due. Better yet, let's put all the back taxes and penalties into Social Security, since none of the politicians that we voted for have to rely on social security, they have their own pension plan (one that cannot be affected by borrowing done from it due to budget imbalances.)

    February 15, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. Sally

    It is obvious that the Republicans have set out to fight everything Obama tries to do. They want to see him fail...they'll do anything to get back in power.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. Mythbusters fans, anyone?

    Any of you watch Mythbusters?

    McCain needs to wear Adam's T-shirt: "I reject your reality and substitute my own."

    McCain has seven houses and 13 or so cars. That's his reality. And don't tell me he earned it. He married into it, with a wife who inherited it.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. adam

    The bad beginning wasn't so much the stimulus bill isn't perfect. In fact, far from it. There are still several things that shouldn't be in there, like the AMT fix, or some of the the gems that Sen Schumer says the American people don't care about. It probably should have contained bigger relief in wage taxes so every working person would feel an immediate benefit. As an Obama supporter and one who was bewildered by Bush's 8 years, let's put this in context. Tax relief is a good thing, but it isn't the only thing. Government is the buyer of last resort and the economy needs some buying going on right now. Other than bigger tax cuts, what else did the Republicans propose? Instead of screaming that the Dem's aren't acting in a bipartisan manner and their solution is not good, how about offering a variety of other ideas?

    Let me give an example of what is wrong with the Republicans right now. If you go to the RNC website, they offer T-shirts for valentines disparaging the president and the Dem leadership. They just don't play nice in the sandbox, are petty, and are a bunch of old white men who continue to become marginalized by the changing face of the population.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. Linda

    This wasn't Obama's bill. This was Pelosi's. And yes, there was wasteful spending in this bill. As I understand it, Pelosi got 30 million for a rat in the wetlands of her district. All of you need to sit down and read all of this bill.
    This bill was supposed to get us jobs, but after all their special interests there will need to be another stimulus bill to really get jobs going.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. what?

    this is why you lost big buddy

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. stuart j

    i dont think he is particularly qualified to speak about cooperation and bipartisianship given the conduct of his campaign- no one needs harangues from an old, tired, bitter man as we try to correct the grave mistakes of the past and move on- in one month president obama has taken on the challenges, shown leadership, and given the american people a reason to believe we can get through this present mess. so there is disagreement about policy- at least in a democracy you can talk about it and not be labelled "unpatriotic" if you disagree with the administration, which is what used to be the norm- no one, not even the nobel laureate economists know how this will all turn out, but the president is trying to do whats best and whats fair, and most of america agrees with him. i suppose if i was a multimillionaire like mccain, id want to minimize my taxes, but im not, and unlike daschle, i pay them,so im willing to put my trust in president obama and work for the best result. just shut up and go away, john.....

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. André J. Adler

    Hi, CNN! Is McCain still equal to good ratings? Then why you guys bother with a loser?

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. Richie

    McCain - You lost. It is not going to give you a redo to attempt to sabotage the new administration. You make me ill. We need everyone on board, rowing in the same direction. We chose our leader. Now, FOLLOW.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. altruth

    John McCain is out of his mind, he is a sore loser.

    Predident Obama has been in office for three weeks and he has accomplished more than Bush did in 8 years.

    We now have a President that we can believe in and President Obama will be successful; he has the American people on his side.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. william

    wow what comments you guys have strong opinions for such spineless liberals. mcCain is right obamas plan its a joke save or create 4 million jobs. if that not setting the bar low for expectations bush from 2003-2006 created 11 million jobs created.... Tax cuts work a lot better at job creation than infrastructure jobs which are all temporary anyways. Also most construction companies are like corporations they will go for the cheapest labor they can find. another great obama idea tax credit for people who already barely pay taxes or none at all i mean really and when you break that down its just 20 dollars less taken out of your weekly paycheck over the year, wow what a difference that make dinner for one anyone... face this is all bs anyways democrats just want to give as many handouts as possible to increase there base and eventually bankrupt america with socialism

    hope you guys enjoy the ride

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. bcool

    Yes McCain sounds like a sore looser but what a short memory we have as the American public. Deregulation of the banking industry happened under Bill Clinton's watch and some leading econpmist warned at the time we would have about 10 years of a wild ride before a crash. Also seems that several Republican's raised concerns about Fannie and Freddie to a Democratic Congress in 2004 and 2005 and were told to shut up and color. Bush made a big blunder with Iraq but you can't blame the current economic situation on him alone. Our self-serving congress (both republican and democrats) looking out for themselves and not the American people is where the blame lies. Obama is making an attempt but saying bi-partisan and actually getting our congress to be bi-partisan are two different things. Peace in the middle east is probably a more realistic goal.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Tony G

    I am and always have been a Democrat, but I have to kind of agree with McCain on this in some aspect. Obama did try to create a bipartisan bill with Republican insight, but let's face it, the Republicans obviously are the ones over the last 8 years that got us into this mess. Sure, there are those who blame the Clinton Administration. But who's been in control the last 8 years and did nothing to stave off the current situation? The fact is that there is a lot of pork and stuff in the bill that will not help with creating jobs. But we also need to understand that creating jobs instantly will not solve all of the problems at this moment. There are more serious problems like budget shortfalls, reduced social programs for the poor, and other issues that need an injection of cash immediately. Once the current crises are averted and jobs are created, tax revenue will help prevent further catastrophe. Obama is a brilliant man who won the election because Americans are tired of what Republicans have to say. Because of his inexperience and dedication to fixing the economy he has allowed some Republicans to infect this bill with their nonsense. Truth is, you cannot work with Republicans in a bipartisan fashion. Remember the "NUCLEAR OPTION" that they used constantly while in control? It's time for Democrats to do the same.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Brad

    Guess what people, "Republicans and Bush did whatever they want for 8 years, therefore they can't criticize what Obama and Democrats do" is a completely useless argument. If we were to act that way every 4-8 years, then we will never see real change.

    Also, how are tax cuts generational theft? Tax cuts puts more money in people's pockets. Tax cuts keeps the government from taking what you earn and spending it on garbage programs. Increasing taxes is theft. Especially when they spend it on a bill that no one had a chance to read. I say vote out every single politician who voted for this bill. Bunch of party loyalists...makes me sick.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Flymast

    I am so sick of these Republican "sore losers"; even though it may not be a perfect bill, this is needed; Americans are in trouble; my best friend is over 50 and has been looking for work for a year and a half and has run out of unemployment insurance; I lost over $3,000 in my son's 529 college fund and now don't know where to get the amount I lost fo pay for his last semester but some of the tax breaks will help.

    The Republicans decided on November 5th they would not work with this President and I'll let you figure out why.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. dittohead with forty names

    Your right,Catherine Austin Fitts does know what shes talking about."The American Tapeworm" is alive and well.

    February 15, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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