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. Nico

    I read on one of the posts, that we as Americans need to get a reality check. I say this us against them atmosphere in America is hurting us more then we know.

    Democrats, Republicans, to many care about that only? We as Americans should put the right Americans in office not because they are with a certain political party. I think way to many Americans get all wrapped up thinking about what party is best . We can miss the best person for the job because you think that Republicans are better then Democrats or vise versa.

    Thats the reality check Americans need.

    February 15, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. JamesMNJ

    If Obama's beginning is bad, Mr. McCain, I can't even begin to imagine the disaster that yours would have been– especially with that genius of a running mate that you had.

    February 15, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. TONYA


    February 15, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Cindy Pez

    McCain failed to act in a bipartisan manner on the stimulus bill.
    He needs to get over losing the election by millions of votes
    and listen closely to the woes facing Americans. The election
    results were clear–Republican economic cures were rejected.

    February 15, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. republicans hate america

    Hey wasn't it you republicans that said criticizing the president in a time of war is un-american?

    February 15, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Kyle

    Dems will always be Dems, Rep will always be Rep. They will always blame and pick a party each other for everything they do. This is the way politics work. ITS THE AMERICAN WAY!

    February 15, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. JimO, Colorado

    If Bush was wrong, does that make Obama correct? There are no other possibilities? I think they are both wrong.

    February 15, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Mark Baird

    Two things.

    CNN. We do not want to hear from people like John McCain, Newt Gingrich, or Bill Clinton. We are ready to move forward not stay in the past with the old. CNN, this is what we are all trying to say. WE ARE READY TO MOVE FORWARD NOT FOCUS ON THE OLD.

    Mr. McCain let's hear your ideas.

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Dave in mich

    Wow, let's see here the man who lead the GOP to a huge defeat is tell us how the winner is doing it wrong..
    THe GOP that gave their banker friends a huge bailout(that did nothing to help us) and yet wants the auto companies (you companies that put people to work) to fail.

    John you should listen to one of your old advisors... our becoming one of the whining Americans..

    How abut this. Work with the president. He won. You lost.

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Dixie Chyc

    Children, children. Behave. It doesn't matter who did what when or for how much or for how long at this point. All that matters is that this country is in some deep doodoo right now and we need to come together. I really had hoped that Obama would bring us together, but this stimulus bill is a solo action by Obama and the Democrats. This is not going to bring us together. It is a slap in the face of Republicans. Think about that.

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Aaron From Michigan

    This is polotics John the democrats don't have to ask permission to make decisions on what direction there adgenda goes, the republicans did whatever they wanted for 8 very long years and look at what they got us. Geez just relax and retire man your old polotics and old ideas are over.

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. Yernadia

    Senator McCain does not like President Obama. He never has and he never will!! He is never going to say anything nice about the man, he is never going to try and work with him. Personally I don't think it has anything to do with the party difference. He has no respect for President Obama. That came across loud and clear during the debates and during the campaign.

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. Casey

    Old man still yelling at cloud...

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. viki

    Really??? How about the 'theft' of lives for a war that was a lie? How about the 'theft' of healthy environment by your administration? How about the 'theft' of rights of Americans perpetrated by Bush and Co.? How about the 'theft' of money by greedy republican businessmen and women who got us into this mess? How about the 'theft' of law as perpetrated by the bush justice dept.? How about the 'theft' of future generations that was pushed by bush and repubs with the first stimulus pkg.? and tax cuts for the wealthy? How about the 'theft' of integrity from our country in the eyes of us and the world?
    Really......................give me a break!

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. Craig

    I think we are losing sight of the issue here. There are multiple views of the solution to our economic problems. At some point, somebody needs to take the leadership role and move on a possible solution. If it works then great...if it does not, then make changes and continue addressing the problem. McCain's comments here are reflective or our lack of cooperation between people of different philosophy's (as are many of the comments in this article). Each group should agree that something needs to be done and no action is not an option. Our elected officials HAVE to come together to agree to solutions rather then constantly fight for their view and only their view.

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. george

    If anyone has noticed the vast, vast majority of comments are supportive of Obama, It's because the majority of Americans are in support of Obama and the stimulus bill. This isn't a case of biased media, it's the reality of the country not being dumb enough to be fooled by the Republicans playing politics. They are just positioning for 2010 and 2012. I hope the Reps realize what a gamble they are taking by being so partisan. If they had supported it even a little, then they could take some credit for success, and still would have less blame than the Dems if it fails. However, now they have come out strong along party lines, so if it is successful, they will have sealed their own fate. Desperate times for the GOP equals desperate actions.

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Jeff

    It is less of generational theft than the Iraq war – which cost over $1 trillion, or the Bush Tax cuts, which cost over $2 trillion ... and with the stimulus we will get something out of it with improved infrastructure (remember the Minn. bridge collapse) and savings on future medical care through the electronic medical records

    And for those who say it was supposed to create jobs and is just a spending bill, spending is what leads to the job creation!

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. Overlook00

    I guess the republican party is baking on the idea that the public has a very short memory.

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. Ron

    Like he would be doing better, what a joke, the voters rejected his tired ideas. We don't need criticism from a guy who admitted the economy wasn't his strong point – why didn't he do something constructive abut this before we got to this point?

    February 15, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Sherrie Eugene, Oregon

    McCain, we already SEEN what YOU would do, that's why YOU lost my friend! Now GET OFF YOUR OWN PITY POT AND GET LOST!

    February 15, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. someone


    February 15, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Brenda armenini

    McCain you are just a sore loser. Just listening to you after the loss of the election makes mer know why i did not vote for you. i will be watching your health during the next 4 years–and to think Palin, in all her infinite wisdom, would have been just a heart beat away from the presidency frightenens me even more–McCain while you are a war hero (I am greatfuil to you) I am dissappointed in you as a politician-what would you have done as your first move had you been the President? Go into details please. You would in my opinion continue the same old failed BUsh policies–Isn't it nice to criticize what you aren't responsible for?

    February 15, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. Ron in Raleigh

    The Republicans were the traditional party of fiscal responsibility. They betrayed this image and trust starting with Ronald Reagan and they completely abdicated this belief under George W. Bush. I don't like what the Democrats are doing with all their spending, but the Republicans are in no position to criticize. They just need to shut up on their same old mantras. And the rest of us need to accept the fact that our nation – us, our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren – have no way of ever paying the debt the US Government is in (and getting worse). The US is bankrupt and this country will never recover from this fiasco, especially with all the morons holding the government positions in Washington, D. C.

    February 15, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Ethan

    We're just using more money we don't have. Which is why this package isn't going to work.

    February 15, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Juanita

    John McCain is RIGHT !!! Obama IS POWER HUNGRY is bent on turning this country upside down and for the worst !! You Obama worshiping kool-aid drinkers will find that out soon enough! YOU people had better be watching YOUR elected President and realize what he is up to and doing to YOUR country before it is too late!! He has duped all of you people to vote for him and already lied to the nation so many times... promises, promises in his campaign!! He is a Chicago thug lawyer and he WILL NOT be good for our country!!! We Republicans WILL take America back !!! January 20, 2009 – THE BEGINNING OF HUGE ERROR !!! January 20, 2013 – INDEPENDENCE DAY !!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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