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. Tom

    Amazing how many people responding think the republicans owend the Congress and the Presidency for 8 Years! Let me see? In 2006 the dems took back the House and the Senate, and in less than two years the economy went to heck. I wonder how that happened? Obstructionist Congress, maybe? Make the country look really bad so we look good in 2008, you bet! They sacrificed the country for a president. This Spendulous Bill will make new jobs....at Unemployment, where they will need the case workers!

    February 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Roberta

    So, President Obama didn't do it exactly the way you would, you crotchety old fart. Have you ever tried to get a bunch of big jealous babies to work together? I'm so extremely tired of McCain's negativity. He should be tried for treason.

    February 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Alex

    Speaking of "generational theft", how's that Iraq war going? Peaceful, grateful, democratic, and prosperous? Yeah...

    February 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Matt

    Here's a few wonderful statistics for all of you that blame republicans and conservatives for the nation's woes:

    1. The money spent by the federal government in the last two years to bail out banks and other financial lending institutions could have paid for 90% of the mortgages in the US. That translates to roughly 1,000 bucks a month in extra spending money for ninety percent of Americans - that's a true stimulus package.

    2. Look at where the money to finance democrat campaigns comes from - you guessed it, those lending institutions that were given close to ten trillion dollars in two years.

    3. Democrat spending in last two years: 10 Trillion dollars
    Republican spending in last EIGHT years: 1.86 Trillion dollars

    So please, get off your high and mighty horses and pay attention to what's actually happening. How about instead of this ridiculous finger pointing, the people we elect to run our country say "yeah, we messed up, but we're going to work together to do what's best for the country, not what's best for our political careers."

    February 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Alan

    actually the Republicans went down party lines. Do the Republicans not get that we voted them out because we are tired of their nonsense and inflexibility? All Republicans voting no smacks of nothing more than Republicans refusing to work cooperatively for the better of the country. We should have voted more of them out.

    February 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. The other Jean

    all though I didn't vote for John McCain, or President Obama, I have to agree, somewhat with McCain, I can't see anything in this Stimulus bill that is going to stimulate the economy or create jobs, or anything else as far as that is concern, There will be no change, just more of the same, the same old politics, the same old government, from both partys, but I guess desperate measures, calls for desperate action.

    February 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Sarty

    Let us have a people PAC to get rid of this PRUNE from Arizona in the next election.
    Old washed out defeated jealous, Me Me & Cindy, my houses and non-sense-get out you fool.

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Christine

    McCain needs psychological help!!!

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Chad


    It's terrible that it came to all of this. This bill would not have even been on the table if not for the terrible administrative decisions of the Bush admin and it's members. Count me as an Arizonan that would have voted for you in 2000, but voted for Obama in 2008.

    You can also consider me as a person seriously considering voting for ANY Democrat that runs against you for your senate seat. I have been VERY disappointed with your actions of the past 2 years or so.

    It's a shame.

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Jeff

    McCain is just a sore loser! Before he was the Republican candidate during the last election, he pretended to be a moderate and could work across the aisle. Now, he has nothing to lose because he's too old to run again. His presidential ambition was squashed by Obama. He's going to do everything possible to derail Obama's presidency. He has no honor left.

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Javier Williams

    I am curious as to why CNN chose to interview Sen. McCain on the topic. Thats like asking the the losing Superbowl team what the winning team could have done better. HELLO! He lost! What insight can have provide us with, that President Obama doesn't already know.

    Look people, we know what the GOP are really about now, they still stand for nothing other than blocking progress. To hear them talk, they still believe that ONLY tax cuts spur the economy. Havent we been down that road and all these roads with them before.
    Not that Democrats haven't made a few mistakes in the past few weeks, but hey give them a break, the are still doing better the the Republicans did when they were in power. I'm voting for a Democratic Super-Majority come Nov. 2010 Lets put the Dems in full charge with Obama at the helm and see where they take us!

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. Will

    Are we expecting an objective opinion? Does he have any credibility left? Are we still listening to this guy?....his motive is clear, bitter old man...

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Josh

    Can anyone really disagree with what he's saying though? Clearly this was not the type of bi-partisan effort that Obama had pledged to create.

    McCain correctly lays the blame with the Republicans as well, but his point is it's once again party vs. party with the more powerful party just doing whatever it wants. It didn't work when the Republicans were in control and just because Democrats don't agree with them doesn't make them right either.

    What both he and Obama said during the campaign was that the correct answers will be the ones where the moderates in both parties win out and there is a general consensus.

    This type of Dems=right Repubs=wrong (or vice versa) mentality is just flat out lazy and, in the end, counter-productive.

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. wimsy

    Yeah, sure, John. Too bad we didn't follow your advice and invest the Social Security money in the stock market. Go help Cindy count her money.

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Peggy

    Poor ole McCain–he's just a sore loser. If he knows it all, why hasn't he come up with a plan to get us out of this mess that has only gotten worse for the past several years? I'm afraid McCain will never agree with anything Obama does–he'll just continue with his put downs–that's not what America needs or wants. We need to see Washington pulling together for us, not for their politics.

    February 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Elmer< MA

    Yes, John, you are right, Obama and the Bum Dems are sacrificing our children's birthright. You Republicans are always right! That's why all us young people voted for you Sen. McCain, and so overwhelmingly for your fellow Republicans. We made it possible for you to be our President, Sen McCain and for the R's to take back control of both Houses of Congress.

    More honestly: I used to have a lot of respect for John McCain. I have even voted for Republicans! (Shocking, I know!) But their lock-step party line and very petty arguments–all of which John McCain endorsed–were cast in Outright Opposition to the Serious Needs of the American People. John McCain–you are a despicable follower of the worst that the Republican Party tells you. Shame. Shame. Shame. And a loser to boot.

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Joe L.

    Funny I thought he gave us exactly what he ran on and what the American people voted for... Just because the Republicans are still listening to the 30% of country that still votes for them doesn't mean a thing to me... Just setting themselves up for more losses in 2010... I say keep it up...

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Simon

    The Democrats should treat the Republicans the way they were treated when they were a minority – shut them up, ignore them do not give them anywhere to meet, exclude them from all decision making. The only "reaching across the isle" should be to choke them and kick them in the balls.

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Shasta

    And McCain, what exactly did you do to change the bi-partisanship? I don't see any evidence that the Republicans are doing anything to reach across the aisles. What I see are a lot of politicians with no solutions, wating to see which way the stimulus seems to be going before they'll jump on board. Yoou watch, if this package does start working, they'll all start jumping on board then. Ans I love when Republican Governor's asked about whetheror not they'll take stimulus money, and of course they will say, yes-–hypoctites!!
    Republicans always want it both ways, and ride on the coattails of others success. Spineless.

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. Sean

    So where is McCain's plan? I don't hear anything except how bad the Obama plan is. If it's that bad Mr. McCain, I have an idea...don't take any of the money from the bill. I'm sure Az. will be just find without it. Typical Republican when a Dem is in office...No matter what their intentions are, it's wrong...Tax cuts worked real well during the Bush administration...(of course nothing really worked well during that administration). Didn't hear McCain complain about the cost of the war (in lives or money).

    At least Obama took the first step in fixing the economy. No it's not perfect, no bill ever has been or ever will be. But it's a good start. It took us a long time to get to here, it's going to take awhile to get us out. Blame who you will...but realize that we've taken the first step towards getting this country where it should be again...and for that I'm grateful...

    Mr. McCain....you lost...get over it!

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. Bob R

    Who gives a hoot what McCain thinks anymore. I'm still sick of his face and comments. How about supporting the president and those who vote by legal majority to put plans into place. The sight of his name makes me ill.

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. chelle

    No GOP House members willing to support? When the package results in the beginning of recovery from the terrible mess they got us into, who's going to look like the obstructionist jerks they are? Once again the GOP demonstrate their lack of concern for the average American.

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. Parnell Meagre

    I imagine even Republicans are secretly glad this guy didn't get elected.

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. Brad

    Oh Please, you all need to get a life!

    February 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. adamwallenta

    Poor, sad McCain. Maybe if you corrupt Republicans would work with HIM. Instead you chose to fight it. And it is your parties fault we are in this mess.

    February 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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