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. Dave

    Since I am from Arizona and McCain is already setting up his 2010 campaign committee, we will ensure he will not win another term. He has wasted lots of years in the Senate without much to show for it. At least he is collecting lots of money from the government each month.

    February 15, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Survivor

    Poor McCain thinks he is still "running for President"!! We saw on the campaign trail what his decision making capabilities were and they weren't very pretty – except for his running mate – who was hired on as a distraction!

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Your party started it Bucko.

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. kenny

    I have to laugh when McCain goes on about "bipartisanship" and how the republican party didn't get its say. Wake up! Most of America doesn't care what the republican party thinks. The republican party is done for. I could have been a great republican... I am a law student and a somewhat conservative Christian, but I now can't vote republican on moral grounds. I would much rather support Obama (who is, in my view, a great American and a great leader) and give him a chance with a stimulus package, and along the way collaborate and compromise with some of my more liberal fellow Americans then do business with a corrupt party that pushes tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the poor and reckless foreign policy. Thanks to men like McCain, Huckabee, and Bush, I am now solidly a "conservative democrat. Go Obama!

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Brenda Hampton

    Just like in the campaign, McCain is still out of touch. He wishes Obama was off to a bad start, but unfortunately, America knows better. He's such a sore loser and I hope that Obama keeps with his strong agenda on getting this company back on the right track and ignore those stupid republications who are aiming to distract him. Keep up the good work, President Obama. The world loves what you're doing and we stand by you.

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. ressemrule

    McCain is a bad loser. He would have made a worse president. I take great satisfaction in 2 things:
    1) McCain has to watch President Obama in person and on t.v., hear about President Obama everywhere he goes, and think about President Obama every day and realize that the American people said NO to him and yes positive change;
    2) McCain is probably to old to be much of a bother by running for president ever again. ...And I praise Jah for it, too. =)

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. robin

    Evolm...get a grip you biggot! Are you wearing your cape and hood as you write? Obama is doing a fabulous job given the mess he was handed. Alteast he has a brain! And, just because he said he would try for bipartisanship doesn't mean he will get it...there are still far too many right wing sore loser republicans who just can't seem to want to move forward with a new and hopefully better philosopy. I support you
    President Obama...I know your heart and mind are in the right place.

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. John Drummond

    Actually, we do care what John McCain thinks. Obama won the popular vote by a small margin (66 million votes to 58 million). McCain is absolutely right in this case. If Obama was committed to bipartisanship, he would have negotiated the bailout plan at a table attended by both parties. They would have reached an agreement by concensus, and neither party would criticize the result.

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. Joyce Becker

    Dear Senator McCain,
    Well you had your chance and you blew it, seems now you are wishing the new president ill will. What happened to the concession speech you made, I guess you didn't mean one thing you said. I thought you told the American people that the economy was good, guess you didn't know what you were talking about then either. At least President Obama is doing everything he can to help this country and you are trying to tear him down. Thank goodness you lost!!

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. David

    Didn't McCain say that he could find Bin Laden and fix the economy? Sorry Johnny, I'm not feeling you on this one either.

    February 15, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Priscilla

    President Obama is definitely on the RIGHT track. McCain, as well as most Republicans, are sore at President Obama's success. President Obama has the heart for the American people and their needs. He will succeed in everything he puts his hands to.

    Go President Obama – America loves you!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. mcccain sucks

    McCain is just jealous because he lost the election to Obama. The Bush Administration allowed a huge lending to banks, without very many rules. Look where that has gotten us, billons down the drain, with the same problem. Let Obama try his way, it may work, may not, will never be as bad as what Bush has done to us.

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. Daniel Pess

    So now he will pot-shot everything Obama does. He likes us to believe that he is the "ultimate American", so how about rallying around the President like Americans are supposed to do – well except for W who proved to be a moron.

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Bob from Virginia


    It is a falsehood and a lie to say no one has read the entire document. If the GOP would get off TV, they would have more time to do just that. They simply want to scrap the whole plan for more tax cuts for the rich.

    The last changes were few, and it's been out there for some time Even I have read most of it, it's not that complex. They're just hoping there are enough people willing to buy their BS line that they can come off as victims.

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. Jose

    Based on the majority of comments posted here I am convinced we are in more trouble than any of us can imagine. Some keep reminding the Demos of what they did for getting that this time we bring "change" to Washington. The reality is that its more of the same! Here we go again.

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. vick

    get a life mcdrill

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. drhunt

    Conservative wrote:

    "It funny how all of the comments are in support of Obama. CNN is obviously just another liberal media source that is unfair and unbalanced"

    Is that proof of bias or proof of broad support?

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  18. Casey


    Why don't you go start your own racist island somewhere then; America has moved on from your kind of stupid.

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. samuel omenta

    Tax break to the wealth who will in turn employ poor Americans and both will pay more Taxes to the govenment of McCain which will in turn invade Iran, send more troops abroad and employ more troops to invade other countries and the unemployment numbers will go down. Americans this time round rose to the occasion by rejecting Republican mentality, retire McCain please!

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. henry

    Well McCain complains that the process wasn't bipartisian and then turns around and admits that the Republicans were guilty of the non-bipartisian behaviour. The Republicans had plenty of time to put forth a plan. As soon as President Obama won the election back in November he stated that he wanted a stimulus plan on his desk as soon as he took office. They had over three months to put together a package but they did nothing because all they wanted were tax cuts. Their whole agenda was to sit back and be obstructionist. The GOP claimed it had a plan that provided 6.2 million jobs at half the cost. Where is it? Did they ever make it public for everyone to see? Of course not because they had no plan except for tax cuts for the wealthy which did nothing for the economy during Bush's eight years of the presidency. They are like little children who get mad when they don't get picked for the basketball team so they throw a tantrum and take their ball home hoping to ruin the whole game; only to realize that the team has a hundred basketballs and the game is going on without them.

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Bob

    John McCain failed in his attempt to tell the American people what he would do to stimulate the economy. HE FAILED. President Obama succeeded and he ABSOLUTELY TRIED TO REACH across the aisle. Senator McCain refused to extend a helping hand. His rheteric throughout the process was polarizing. 35% of the stimulus package are in the form of tax relief. He is unhappy it is not for his wealthy friends. McCain is unworthy to be evaluating the merits of this plan.


    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. greg hewitt

    of course

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. Justin from New Haven, CT

    McCain is a irrelevant loser.

    February 15, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. Steve

    I'm tired of hearing these Republicans whine! Before you attempt to comment on this comment, make sure you are not one of those senators or house members who voted against it. If you are not, then you must be an American who needs help. Could you afford waiting on the Republicans bickering and successful attempts to stall the bill when your job became a question, along with your savings and children or grandchildren's education? I commend the Democrats for taking at least a step to show Americans that we want to do something for you. This might not fix everything, but if it fixes at least one thing, the purpose is served well. And with a $700 billion dollar + price tag, I'm sure more than one thing will be fixed! For the pessimistics, just sit back and see if it will work before predicting what it will do. Give it a chance!!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. GT

    In McCain's world, tax cuts are the answer for all economic ills. He and the repubs completely ignore that unemployed people can't benefit from tax cuts. Republicans don't care about unemployed people. Their tax cuts are designed to help the Republicans who have work and wealth.

    In McCain's world, deficit spending for needless war is ok, but otherwise it's "generational theft".

    It is ALARMING to think of what we'd be going through if McCain and his dim-witted running mate had won.

    February 15, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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