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. jay

    I am shocked and mortified that the Republican Party, whom I have been a member all my life, cares more about obstructing the economy and destroying America rather than helping it recover, simply because it means supporting the "other guys party"! They care more about saving face than saving the economy! The stimulus plan will save our economy and the world and the GOP don't even care! They are actually trying to make things worse, I can't believe their stupidity and negligence! The GOP now look like a bunch of babies who lost the election and are now determined to throw a continual tantrum until the entire world comes crumbling down, at which point they will blame "the other party"! Sometimes you have to give in and do what is necessary to save yourself, and they are just way too proud and vain to do what is right. The entire country supports Obama now because we know he makes sense and he truly cares about the "people". I am so angry with my own party and can't believe I voted for McCain, how could I have been so blind! I will be switching parties ASAP! What a bunch of arrogant dumb-heads!

    February 15, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. lele

    Oh Johnny Boy still think he is running for President...trying everything he can to put Obama down. The election is over Johnny Boy!!! Obama is the President, like it or lump it. If you really want to help our nation, stop putting our President down as though he is some little school boy who doesn't meet your expectations. What you and your fellow good of boys want is for Obama to be the President as long as you can control him from behind the scenes...THOSE DAYS ARE OVER!!! Your words against our President are irresponsible. Just like choosing Palin to run for Vice-President, IRRESPONSIBLE!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Juli

    The comments here SICKEN me. Whining, finger pointing, partisan bickering. It's silly. It's no wonder congress is incapable of doing more than fighting and laying blame–it's all we Americans seem to be capable of anymore.

    And I happen to agree with McCain. I'm a Democrat who voted for him, and he's totally right in this instance. This stimulus mortgages our childrens' future. It's reckless and won't fix the economy.

    February 15, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Leslie

    Whether you were for or against Obama or McCain, it really doesn't matter. Plain and simple, this stimulus bill is a piece of crap. It IS creating generational debt – anybody with a HS diploma should be able to see that – and that's a BAD BAD move for our country. It weakens us. What they REALLY ought to be doing is giving companies huge incentives to move ALL those jobs they moved overseas (manufacturing to China in the 80s/90s, services to India/others in the 90s) right back over to the states. I'm amazed at how stupid this thing is. For all of you who are for it – think that ridiculous bank bailout move that was presented as a "mortgage" bailout. Keep in mind that, to date, NOT ONE American citizen has received a single penny in bailout funds. That's exactly where this is going and we're putting future generations in debt for this. Stupid beyond words.

    February 15, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Ken (New York City!)

    Who cares what McCain says?

    He's trying desperately to the spokesperson for the Republican party to no avail. Nobody cares what he says. He's just continued with his criticism of Obama from the election.

    Let's remember folks: this is the guy who allowed Palin to run on his ticket. Who is to judge anyone on competence??

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. yeah right

    oh well Obama tried with GOP now Mr. President do your job fix the economy if they want to help listen if not don't bother by the way I will gladly vote this joker ,sore loser out of office.


    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Hannah

    Hey Dems- I thought you fought against ageism, sexism, racism? Let's stick to issues. Your comments are so disrespectful.

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. jane

    John, pleeeese! Why are you giving McCain a forum? Just a few months ago he was saying that "the economy was fundamentally sound" and his economic advisor said we were a "nation of whiners"! Surely, John, you can find ONE Republican with a decent idea! Well, maybe not. CNN needs to know that when these tired old pieces of you-know- what come on, I immediately go to the weather channel.

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. deb

    Unfortunately the generational theft (budget deficit) was created by people in your party, not by president Obama. When the senior Bush finished his term in office, Clinton was handed a 404 billion dollar deficit. The junior Bush was handed a surplus of 200 billion dollars from Clinton. Now Obama is being handed a 482 billion dollar deficit from Bush. Do you see the pattern here????
    Historically, the economic health of this country is better when we have a democratic president. Just take a look at the facts, the history books don't lie.

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. USAF RET

    I think the senator continues to prove that he was right when he said–during his unsuccessful campaign–that he does not understand any of this. Now he needs to understand that working together does not mean the POTUS should disregard his campaign promises–that got him elected–and allow the senator and his party continue to have it their way. Wake up John–the voters have spoken! And if I'm not mistaken, three members of his party did say that they were willing to work with the opposing party and did cause some changes to the original plan. Of course you probably consider them traitors now for putting "Country First". You talked it John but they showed it.

    Let me put our nation's situation in a way the senator can understand it. If you take a key off your key ring and it doesn't unlock the door–try another key; no matter how many times you use the wrong key, the door won't open.

    Finally, what does the senator mean when he said “It has hundreds of billions of dollars in projects which will not yield in jobs,”. Does he think these projects can be completed by someone just snapping their fingers. People must be hired to to work these projects.

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Palin and I approve this Message

    You betcha you are right John, also with that being said also it has to be all about tax cuts. gosh darn it I put on that lipstick and I am a reformer I want to redo what Bush already formed that is a reformer John. How many houses do you own???? And where is Osama we are Mavericky!!!! And I approved this messages Palin/Todd 2012

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Joselle

    Funny how people like to complain that it's CNN's "liberal bias" that's the cause of all the anti-Republican, pro-Democratic comments on here. Obama won because more people voted for him; ergo, more people would STILL be in support of him and his policies at this early stage into his presidency.

    Look, the economy is going to get much, much, much worse before it gets better, but that has nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with the failure of the Republican run government for the last 8 years. Obama is trying to stop the economies negative momentum. I don't know if his stimulus bill will work, only time will tell. I think he's doing extraordinarily well for having inherited the presidency at such a terrible time. Plus, he gives people hope. And hope is an important thing to have when time are tough.

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Keri

    The American people back Obama. Thats why we voted for him. The senator needs to back off and let Obama learn and grow with his new job like everyone in the real world does.

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Sportsfan

    Well!!! Maybe Obama should have just done nothing, except to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich and big business. That would have been fully supported by Sen McCain. After all in his own words " The economy is strong". What an out of touch "rich guy" he is. He should have insisted that a little piece of pork should have been inserted in the bill.....Tax breaks on houses x to y . Insert the numbers when you figure out how many you own.

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Blatherskite

    Yeah, and choosing Palin was a bad ending for McCain.

    Hey, this must be the serious test Biden was referring to in Obama's first 100 days!

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Zac, Atlanta

    "Instead, “you sit down in a room with competing proposals”"

    So what did Collins, Snowe, and Specter do all day everyday for the past 2 weeks? Chop liver?

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. Vinni

    I think he should shift to Alaska and spend rest of his time in his dreamworld.

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Ironman

    Listen to yourselves.

    One point that Senator McCain and President Obama have shared in the past is that we need to work together. We are facing an economic depression and this is no time to fling mud at each other. Some of you say you're sick of politicians flinging mud at each other, but look at yourselves, look at the comments you leave.

    You spend time degrading one of our nations senators because why? because it makes our nation better? because it makes you feel better? Why don't we all take some time out of our political mud flinging and sit down and try to work together?

    For one second can we all please lay down our political weaponry and create a better life for each other?

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Gene

    Come on folks. Did you even read the article? He talking about being bipartisan not denying his own party's problems.

    "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.”

    February 15, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. interested observer

    McCain, hasn't a clue what's going on, he speaks on both sides of his mouth. He says he wants to be a partner in the new administration but does nothing but put it down every chance he has. What has he done to help the situation we are all in, ask him that. I believe he is a bitter man, who really wanted to be president for as long as anyone can remember and he always wanted to be called Mr. President. He is acting like my 10 year old daughter who likes to blame everyone else, and it is never his fault. It is amazing how his hands are always clean.

    John King I like you and your reporting, but you can't softball all the questions, you have to ask the tough ones as well, you need harder follow up questions. Make the show interesting, not combative but interesting, when necessary lets see the guests struggle to answer.

    February 15, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. High School Sophomore

    People all say that the Republican economic policies: tax cuts, monetarism, and a balanced budget have failed, but this is simply not the case. "Reaganomics" have had far more historical successes than the Keynesian economic policies of Democrats that focus on job creation. McCain is not wrong in criticizing our President, because, even though Obama is a very smart man, he is very human. Obama has made idiotic mistakes in dealing with this economic crisis, and has alienated the Republican party. The Dow dropped 800 points when Obama announced his stimulus. Clearly, Obama has not had anything remotely like a good start.

    February 15, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. justin

    angry old defeated candidate

    February 15, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  23. Bill

    Keep it up John. The more you and your out of touch cronies sound like this, the more losses you'll get in 2010. Republicans should be banned to the wilderness for thirty years so we can fix the country.

    February 15, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. FCW.

    Mr. McCain,

    The American people are not as stupid as you apparently still think we are. That's why you lost. The comments on this thread show a clearer understanding of the dire situation facing the US which you, apparently, still refuse to understand or take responsibility for. Obama has already taken more responsibility for the nation's economic crisis than you have, and he, at least until recently, shops at Target.

    And, as many people here have already pointed out, you have absolutely no right to talk about "generational theft." YOUR generation was handed a working United States - a United States your parents practically killed themselves creating - and your generation drove it, full speed, into a wall, leaving false wealth, wrecked marriages and neglected children in your wake.

    Stop lying. Show some shred of responsibility. And in the meantime, shut up.

    February 15, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. Fesdon

    I think we need an approval rating of McCain (just to let him know exactly where HE stands with the public) and stop headlining the guy. LOSER.

    February 15, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70