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. Chuck

    "GENERALTIONAL THEFT"? Who the hell are you taliking to, McCain?

    What do you think the "Cheney/Bush" and Congressional Republican administrations have been doing for the last eight years.?

    You contributed heavily (93%) in supporting the economic mess we are currently into.

    Now, you tell us what, specifically, you would do to clean up this mess; and, we do not want to hear generalities, be specific and clear.

    February 15, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. RCT

    Overwhelming support for Obama and bashing McCain.
    Proof none of you know whats in the bill or when it gets spent.

    February 15, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. steve Loudon, TN

    what juvenile, purile, vitriole I hear from the "winners" of the last futile election. Nothing has nor will change in Washington. It is all about them making themselves more powerful, rich and isolated. We have no real choice in our governance...that is the biggest open secret, whomever is "in power"......spending OPM is what they all do best. Time for the torches and pitchforks to run them all out of office.

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. elsie

    I wonder if he pays these false journelists to interview him.

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Robert

    You would have gotten it all perfect John and thanks for your input and full on maverick high profile solutions these past few days.

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Keith

    I used to have a modicum of respect for "the Maverick"; I didn't always agree with his stands on issues, but he crossed lines. It seemed that we needed more of that. Now I see him as the very worst in all the politicians out there. Whatever stand he makes is entirely political in nature, with the possible exception of treatment of detainees. It has always probably been like that – but it took his sleazy campaign against Obama to drive this fact home in my mind. He now appears to be attempting to stay in the national spotlight – I fear he still has allusions to the Presidency. God help us all.

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. Armand

    You came to my Super bowl party, now bow down before me!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. dan

    I've always said the best way to hurt a democrat is to let them elect one. Not only will this welfare package not help the economy it will put millions more out of work because our money will be worth less. The more you print the less it's worth. These jerks got rich on the strong economy (until the democrits took over congress in 06)and are going to make sure the rest of us don't get to enjoy the same success.

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. kbruegg

    We had the republican agenda forced down our throat for 8 yrs and when we questioned it we were told we were unpatriotic. Its time to steam-role the democratic agenda down their throats for some years now and if they dont like it they can leave the country, like they told us to do.

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Dan D

    It's amazing how some conservatives expect for one man to solve the problems of our country in 26 days. It took 8 years for that idiot to get us where we are today but you want results in 26 days. Lets get real people. I think you nay sayers are a bit detached from reality. You same clowns who doubt our new Presidents will and determination must not forget you to was paying 4.00 for gas just 6 months ago. Who was at the helm when we went into recession. We spent more money on an unjust war than we'll spend on this stimulus package. Channey and Bush got rich and us Americans got stiffed. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Andre Nguyen

    This is from the guy who admitted economic is not exactly his strong point.

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Charlie

    McCain's claims to be bipartisan have proven to be a joke. He is now showing that the the extreme right wing McCain we saw in the presidential campaign, is the real McCain. Personally. I feel that the man who would have given us Palin a heart beat away from the presidency, because he thought it would win him the election, no longer has any credibility!

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Patsy Madison, TN

    You had it wrong during the campaign and you have it wrong now. I really do not care what you think. You helped Bush get us in this mess.

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Scott, Mizzou

    My favorite people are the ones who are so judgemental of anything that does not fit their conservative opinion that they lable CNN and anything else against them "Liberal". Look, republican conservatives, you had 8 years to get done all that you wanted, 6 of those with full control and you ran the country into the ground. You did this and until you can come forward and start admitting mistakes were made, how can we, the majority of the public, take anything you say seriously? You have built your house upon the sand, first dig out, gain composer, and then start playing politics again. Until then, stop betting against America with such negativity towards an Obama administration, which was voted in by one of the largest majorities ever, and start doing your part to help, not whine, block, protest, cry, etc.....

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. maeve

    Wow. It must be tiring for poor John to lug around that party line!

    The Dems listened to several Repubs who said they wouldn't vote for the stimulus unless their favorite stipulations were put in, but then – after their ideas WERE included – they still didn't vote for it. They then said it was because a different one of their favorite stipulations wasn't included in the package.

    When this tactic was finally seen for the typical carny shell game it was, the Dems rightfully walked away from bipartisanship efforts that had been turned into a farce by their Repub collegues..

    In the end, only 3 Repubs could bring themselves to act like both honest and honorable brokers.

    And now here comes John McCain, saying that because Obama wouldn't play their game, his presidential start didn't have the bipartisanship promised.

    No wonder McCain looks so tired and befuddled in the interview: that load of bull must be heavy!

    February 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. hahahohoheehee

    After reading this, I just had to go revisit the videos of MCain on the internet, contradicting HIMSELF on issues of the economy, tax breaks, foreign policy, Katrina, etc. Again and again. Always worth a laugh.

    He's such a funny man. And he belongs to such a funny party.

    February 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. sam

    They just won't give up the power. they failed big time and they are hell bent on destroying what we have left in favor of big business. The fact remails they put in the 70 billion for the wealthy. WHY?? their econonomic packages failed beor. only to have the little guy take all brunt of their wealthy friends coddling.When top executives complain about a salery cap they have no guilt about telling the Little guy Tighten your belt. Mr.McCain should watch what he states. it will continue to hurt his party. Say Lave!!

    February 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Mike

    McCain is right. There was nothing bipartisan about this process, and the bill has at least $200 billion of pork which won't produce jobs. Obama is just spend, spend , spend as usual.

    February 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Charley

    McCain has a point, step it up obaba. Saying "go way gramps" and calling him an old man wont change that.

    Why is it so hard for people to admit it when Obama makes mistakes?

    February 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Vanessa

    What is wrong with all of you...you say McCain is bitter and you sound just as bitter, if not more! How do you each contribute to society? Or do you all sit around and come up with more hateful things to say? That's what's wrong with this country...everyone is angry and wants to blame one person for the way they feel.

    February 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. kenny

    One more thing. Conservative generation X and generation Y democrats, such as myself, will make sure that the republican party becomes a regional party. We will NEVER again vote republican. I may not 100% agree with every single point that the democrat party makes, but I would MUCH rather have Obama in power than someone like McCain, Huckabee, Palin, or Bush. Maybe, someday in the future, a new conservative party will arise and replace the republican party (like the republican party replaced the Whig party in the 1800s). Maybe this party will better represent the interests of conservative democrats such as myself. Until then, though, I will gladly work and compromise with gay marriage supporters and my other more liberal fellow Americans if it means keeping the republican party FAR away from power.

    February 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. willow ross

    Would you please, please stop giving John McCain a platform...the man is not thinking clearly and is an embarressment.

    I am going into my 86th year and I recognise his faulty thinking, his vacillating, his anger and fear...I see it in many of my peers.

    Would that he would just go write a book,play golf and more importantly since he still is a working senator.....stop lying to himself and to the people,have some integrity.

    February 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  23. Alan

    I think McCain is right, but as many of the prior posters point out, the Republican's have lost all credibility due to their mismanagement of domestic/foreign affairs over the past several years. So it is a hard sell to listen to Republican criticism now. (I have called myself a Republican in the past, but due to the prior 8 years I have moved to become firmly independent of the two parties, with philosphical orientation of libertarian.)
    I think this discussion needs to move to the next step of actually analyzing objectively what is in the stimulus bill. IS THERE ANY PLACE ONLINE THAT WE CAN GO TO SEE A LINE-BY-LINE SYNOPSIS OF THE BILL SO THAT EACH OF US CAN DETERMINE FOR OURSELVES WHAT IS IN THERE AND WHAT THE BENEFIT/COST MIGHT BE? I had hoped to see that on the new Whitehouse.gov site, but no soap.

    February 15, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. JIm

    Well.. I have no faith in Obama what-so-ever. The Whitehouse will be back in the hands of the Republicans in 2012 after the raping of the future generations of the country is overwith.

    You wanted Obama, well.. you got it. Soak in it.

    February 15, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. Anne

    McCain you sound like a sore loser. Come on you will need to change at some point. Change can only happen when the person changes and you my friend are still under the Bush old fail policies. Thank God you did not win!

    February 15, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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