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. John Sullivan

    I live in Arizona and voted for Mr. Mccain in the past. However, he is wrong about the stimulus plan and Mr. Obama. Mr. McCain's policies have failed the country. His judgement is poor (witness his choice of Palin as a VP running mate) and he admitted he knows little about economics. Mr. McCain has ignored Arizona's miserable educational status, he has ignored Arizona's failing health care, and he has done little to nothing for our economy. He has had his chance to lead and failed. The fact that no Republicans in the US House of Representatives voted for the stimulus plan is a sign of ignorance, racism, and basic party over country.

    February 15, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Keith

    It's hard to sit down with the loyal opposition when all they have to propose are tax cuts with the audacity of "nope." Since when is McCain any sort of expert on the economy? Since when does a Republican worry about saddling the future with our debts from today? Since they lost in 2006 and 2008. Only in the minority do they return to their core principles (to be jettisoned for sure next time they regain control of the House, Senate, and/or White House). The GOP has a long way to go before they can be taken seriously again. A very long way.

    February 15, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. B

    McCain should shut his pie hole Rep are hoping the administration fails. The whole country sees it so his balloon headed man should go sleep.

    February 15, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. MCATL

    Sour grapes from the loser!

    McCain lost the election and now lost the battle on a bailout. He's not hurting in this downturn.

    "Generational theft" is about the dumbest made-up phrase I've ever heard. What about all of the borrowing to fund Iraq? What about all of those killed in Iraq – there won't be a next generation for them.

    McCain and the rest of the Republicans need to look around and see what is really going on in the US.

    February 15, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Steve Taylor

    It is not exactly surprising that the losing candidate is critical of the winning candidate. Is this really newsworthy?

    February 15, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. A.L. Hall

    No offense to Mr. McCain...but why again would I care about his opinion? He lost! Now his opinions need to get lost! His opinions about the person who beat him don't hold water since the country decided Obama was better!

    February 15, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. Darren

    Just because there's no tax cuts for the extremely rich in the stimulus package doesn't mean that Obama didn't strive for bi-partisanship. McCain is a loser and he sure is acting like one. Obama met with congressional Republicans, invited them to the White House for Superbowl parties, appointed THREE Republicans to his cabinet (one stabbed him in the back), and included way more tax cuts in the final package than he or the left wing of the party wanted. And how did the GOP repay him? By spitting in his face. ZERO House Republican votes and a mere 3 in the Senate. In case McCain and his colleagues forgot, they lost in November. BADLY. Americans have resoundingly stated that they are against tax cuts for the rich and are interested in pursuing Obama's course of action. And after 8 years of causing the problems that we face, they're still pushing for the same failed policies and openly stating that they hope Mr. Obama fails. Well, if he fails, the country fails. But I guess what's important to the Republicans is regaining power in 2010... certainly not creating jobs or helping Americans stay in their homes.

    February 15, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Jo

    Yeh, John, it was a really bad beginning. He got the stimulus bill he wanted and your party became the party of no. So sad.

    February 15, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. Carol

    Hmmm - Does the expression "sour grapes" spring to mind here?

    February 15, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. JB

    I am so tired of listening to this man.

    February 15, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    McCain, ever the opportunist. His credibility is sliding by the day.

    February 15, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. Angela

    Obama approached the Republicans but if they can't play according to their rules, they aren't going to play at all. Bipartisanship requires flexibility, not this stonewalling. Republicans: You LOST. You don't get to dictate the rules of engagement.

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. D. D.

    Yeah? And you, Senator Mc Cain mskes good choices?
    I wonder how many Republicans are wondering why they did not run for the Presidency against the articulate Whippersnapper that you with all your experience couldn't handle?
    Also I am inqusitive to how many GOP leaders as well as Democrats are jealous of President Obama's intellect and creditials? Wonder how many in the leadership in Washington who are racist and hiding behind the unity of the party- one way or another?
    Our President is so brilliant that he immediately removed the Census from the Senator desiring the Commerence Dept. When that was removed Gregg removed himself. That spoke volumes- the ploy failed.- sorry ,Republicans, that shot failed. What's next- removing Senator Burris for not fully being truthful? He should have been. His need to write more on his masuleom was his first priority that added to his dishonesty. He sealed all the other dishonesty for the week. Bohner send him a certificate.

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. ericd

    The president is doing just fine with a mess of a situation created by McCain & Co..

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. A CANUCK

    Who cares what McCain thinks...he's such a poor loser !!!

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. C.S.A republicans

    Thats enough for one day John,now go get your meds. and take your nap.

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Karen

    Ah..John...what about the trillion dollar war in Iraq for the past how many years???...what jobs is that creating for the American public?? besides the funeral directors?

    Karen in Canada

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Carla

    McCain you LOST!!!!!!! Get over it!!!!! No one wants to hear your 2 cents!

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. The Last Patriot

    Hey let's all focus on Obama's jump shot and new digs, while the likes of Pelosi and Reid get rich off of an $8 billion train to no where. Sounds like a plan...

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Sen. McCain, the Palin-Picker, your words carry as much weight as a sheet of cheap tissue.

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. Dorothy

    John McCain should try to meet Obama half way instead of putting blocks up when he tries to reach out to the Republicans..
    Working together may help!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  22. mehrrh

    McCain is no maverick – he is the perennial opportunist.

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  23. Oregonian

    That's right John. We stuckhundreds of billions more "tax cuts" in that willdonothing to generate jobs. Those and more tax cuts were theonly "new" ideasof Republicans.

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  24. DIY


    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. Jane

    It sounds to me like John McCain is eating sour grapes

    February 15, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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