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. Brian MacDougall

    Weren't the Republicans the ones who wrote an $800 billion bail-out bill that was THREE PAGES LONG?! The bill that had no transparency, no accountability and no effect? The bill that really was money down the rabbit hole? Wasn't that a Republican deal? Do I have any reason to suspect that had McCain won, they wouldn't have done EXACTLY the same thing again?

    Mr. McCain, like most of the Republican leadership, seem to think the American people aren't paying attention. We know who the obstructionists are, and we know who is attempting bipartisanship. We know who stripped out the executive compensation clause. We know who inserted the tax cuts for their corporate masters and cut out simple, shovel-ready provisions. NONE of this is escaping the public.

    The Republicans have much to fear in 2010.

    February 15, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Tom

    America, don't be the typical lock-step lemming you are.

    This is just another cheap political stunt by the repugnicons to keep the few seats they have in the 2010 elections. They lost the election, their policies have been rejected and all they can claim is the change Americans wanted was for congress to work together.

    Again they are trying to twist what Obama's campaign of change really meant to suit their political agenda. It meant changes the ways the Repugnicans do business by kicking their butts out.

    Amazing. This wonderful change of heart by the Repugnican when then are the minority. All the sudden everything is about fairness. When they control it is our way or the highway.

    Which ironically in the Repugs book means caving in and giving them their way. Funny I did not see them giving in and allowing the dems to get everything they wanted in the last how many years.

    February 15, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Jeema

    James – no, W did not propose a bill like the Generation Rape bill pushed through by the Democrat Party. CNN should be held legally lible everytime they post statements that are patently and obviously a lie.

    February 15, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. susan

    Oh come on you people, you don't know the first thing about John McCain.....Obama will give you a $13.00 increase every 2 weeks...that's it. Is that the 'change' you voted for? Enjoy it while it lasts.

    February 15, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. Susie

    Just think! The alternative would have been Sarah. He needs to realize that the people just didn't buy what he and she were attemping to sell. They did a rotten job!

    February 15, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. kingtut

    Hey John, don't go away mad.....just GO AWAY!!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. Bill

    It is remarkable that we can give the banks 3/4 trillion dollars, and we can send more than that to Iraq looking for folks living in Pakistan, but it is a waste of money if it goes to American schools or American infrastructure. Wow, the Republicans picked a funny moment to become conservative. Truly amazing. Once upon a time I voted Republican. Fool me twice....

    February 15, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. rena from TX

    We have to remember that McShame voted for Bush policies over 90% of the time. So, if he feels that Obama's policy are a bad start... then we must be doing something good. I personally would not want any of the policies that McShame and his Republican croonies would want... and given how the country voted... NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE!

    Just out of couriosity, who won the November 4th election>???

    February 15, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Dwight

    Chad, that's not just democrats (signing without reading). Think Patriot Act parts I & II.
    I think it's both humorous and vexing that now, suddenly they want to bring up the national debt, as if the balance was zero before January. That was already screwed up from the last administration. Unbelievable.

    February 15, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Michelle

    A man who would name Sarah Palin as his running mate has *no* place offering any opinions on how the presidency is best conducted.

    February 15, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |


    February 15, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. mond

    As far as I know, over 40% Americans voted for this guy. However, I find out that here most of the comments are against John McCain. As a Chinese, I know Chinese government hires people to post on web to represent the mainstream idea. So is there a Department of Truth in US? Something is really fishy here.

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Nick

    Whether Obamians like or not, McCain has a point.

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. Brett

    What a shock, liberals go on the offensive by calling McCain a bitter old ultra conservative and taking the opportunity to rip Sarah Palin.........McCain is one of the only Republicans to cross party lines to try and get things done, and shouldn't be confused with a real ultra conservative like Mike Huckabee. Obama supporters: Don't go crazy with the personal insults just because you can't handle someone speaking out about this outrageous spending.

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Lou from CT

    Hey Mr. McCain – there's a song from the 1980's with the following lyrics:

    "Don't go away mad...just go away"

    Take the advice and walk away...

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Cody

    I voted for Obama, but this bill sucks. Just because you vote for someone and hope they are successful doesn't mean that you drop all inquiry and investigation at the door.

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. Tom

    Oh, yes. McCain the economics genious would have had a "good begining", ha? I think it is time for all the economics genious of the GOP to shut up. We know what you can do--eight years of our lives lost!!! And now our savings and our livelihoods lost! That is what the GOP is good for!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Taylor

    It's funny but not funny that my brother, an Obama voter (I was not) told me two days ago that he was disappointed that there were so many "extras" in the bill that he hoped would be cut. He also said, "I thought the public would have five days to look at it online." That's what McCain also noted in this interview. I'm afraid this is business as usual, and the fear-mongering that was decried in the campaign is going to be modus operandi for our "new" administration. The fear urgency of now rhetoric was used to push something through that was not thought out sanely, nor as we all know, even read. I did not tell my brother "I told you so" nor did I want to. This is my country and president also, and the thought of what this so-called recovery and reinvestment is capable of damaging in this nation is something I'm trying not to think of.

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. Andrew KIM

    Mr. McCain, you showed us how terrible your judgement is when you picked Palin to be your running mate. I was your supporter until you had that bimbo running her mouth. It just goes to show how pathetic you old time politicians are. For you to lose the election in landslide and now yapping about how bad Obama is managing this crisis which was created by lame duck and borderline criminal Bush & Cheney admin is rather laughable. Please shut up and finish your term and disappear please. You got there not because you were brilliant but because of your family. Shut up John.

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. entertained reader

    some of these comments are so funny and entertaining! Sad part is nothing has changed.

    D and R's must work together if not...er they can't...

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. Sparks

    Get OVER it! You lost, remember? I am so sick of his negativity. All he wants to do is spend money on fighting wars that we should not even be fighting. I am unemployed after working hard in retail for over 25 years. I am cold because I cannot afford the heat, and I am getting hungry because I cannot afford food. But, I will support Obama. He is trying to help us. I would LOVE to see McCain in my shoes for just one day. He could never do it. He has money. So, quit bashing and support your new boss.

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Rob

    Democrats can't even pay their taxes, Ok lets appoint more idiot Democrats that don't pay their taxes and boost more taxes because you dont think you have to pay them. Darrr de darr, Cry babies, just dont like to hear the truth. Same thing with the war ! When we were blasting them after 9/11 you demos were screaming drop more bombs, then comes to election time and its "war is taking to long" My guess is 95% of all Democrats "Still" think OJ Simpson didnt do it !

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. PK California

    Like he could do better!!!!! He's not one to be giving advice!!!! We'd be in the ditch if he were president!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. ari from virginia


    Do ya think McCain could try to do what he said in his concession speech like help "my President" instead of sound like a little kid with no solutions to the problem. Like he could have made congress do this much work in 3 weeks!!!

    WORK, remember that what Congress gets paid to do!!

    ...and mr. McCain-THE PRESIDENT DID take it outside the beltway thats why the republican Governers and Mayors are and were in support of this thing as were the people of the UNITED States of America.

    He reached out to you first and foremost...

    You're calling it a bad start because the republicant's cannot read 1000 pages overnight or help their country... It seems to me CNN did it, I did it and everyone that cares about this country did it!!

    So, it hurts a little to "pull up your sleeves and get to work"


    EXACTLY, what was your solution to this crisis–Mr. McCain?!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. READY99

    Evolm-Your racist comment is not needed!!!! Please return to your right -wing racist party[THE REPUBLICANS}

    February 15, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
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