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. Larry

    There is something wrong with people that do not care about our solders or veterans:

    all items for Veterans Affairs were reduced and the $2 billion the Senate wanted for VA construction was wiped out altogether. The VA did get one thing: $1 billion for medical facilities renovation and retooling.

    # Military construction: Cut and put into a general pot, a change from targeted money for each branch of the services. Army construction alone went from $600 million in the Senate and $900 million in the House to $180 million in the final bill. But negotiators compromised over a general military construction fund - the House wanted $3.75 billion while the Senate allocated $118 million and settled on $1.45 billion for all services.

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

    Well, the jury is still out on Obama but I must agree with McCain. Obama has lied to us and I voted for him.

    February 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Phyllis in FL

    What a sore loser. So much for his fancy concession speech saying how much he was going to support HIS President. The only negative thing about the President's start is the Republican rhetoric. He's accomplishing what he promised and set out to do with or without their support and despite their negativity and partisan behavior.

    Keep up the good work Mr. President. We support you 100 percent and Mr. McCain, why don't you give the American people what you promised...your support to our President and hope to the American people. We are now on the path to recovery.

    February 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. munoz

    This bill was an IOU from president Obama to the sentors that put him in office. Take a look at the bill and see for yourself. Special pet projects written in by senators with special interest. Pork my friends....with no clear spending that will create economic recovery. Wake up Obama is just a politician vulnerable to corruption by power, ego, and lies. He may have won the election but he has yet to do anything significant during his 1st 100 days.

    February 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Rod O

    McCain’s pathetic whining cry baby voice makes me sick.
    Why don’t you suspend yourself from Politics.

    February 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Al

    Well it was the republicans who let this mess get out of hand in first place. And now they are complaining the way President Obama is trying to handle the economy. Stimulus is needed asap. Without the bill we could witness the worst in american history, an "Economic Colapse".

    February 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. Dee

    The McCain story gets sadder and sadder.

    February 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. Timothy

    Just say NO to John McBitter! Why are you still interviewing this guy?

    February 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. Michael

    Just a reminder to the hippie liberals that are currently talking trash about McCain on this page,

    You are nothing compared to John McCain
    He has more money
    He has more of a legacy
    He has more guts
    ...and he has 7 houses, while all of you writing on this page are living in one apartment or maybe your parents house.
    Do you really think he cares what some soup-kitchen, robin-hood, pansy, computer nerds think about him?

    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. JPEmerald

    Amazing! Whenever the repugnican'ts are in office, four things ALWAYS happen: An invasion somewhere, widespread corruption, Our Treasury gets pilfered, and a wicked recession(depression) slams U.S...
    Go away repugnican'ts!!!! I am tired of being "trickled down" on by your voodoo economic, bovine scat ,of oligarchic, plutocratic, welfare and greed. Maybe there a nominal position available at Haliburton, or Carlyle Group, or Black Water, or one of the bloated oil companies for you, J.McKook. Oh, and take the end-timer S.Failin with you too. Maybe the "country of Africa" needs your irrelevant views.
    Our New, Intelligent, Articulate, Honorable, President Obama has not even been in office for 30days yet.
    Truly, he can not screw up as horribly, as the rigged-elected, know-nothing, Imbecilic, slimy, corrupt, "baby bush" regime did.

    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. Nathan


    I think it's nuts that you're wanting change in less then a month. The change starts from the bottom up sweetie...start calling senators offices in your areas, start getting involved. You make the change. Obama is trying, but won't succeed without support. Do you think old schoolers like McCain is going to give up so easily on how Washington operates, or anyone else for that matter? Don't shoot yourself in the foot sweetie and do something instead of just complaining waiting for someone to clean up yours mine and millions of others messes.

    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. Canadian soccer mom

    Didn't McCain vote for the first bailout? Now he throws his critiques of President Obama as if he has a better idea. If he and the Repbulicans truly had a better idea the economy wouldn't be in the mess that it is.
    He lost all credibility when he chose Pailin as his running mate and chose a divisive tone in his campaign.

    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |


    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Jer

    There is no such thing as "bipartisan". The word in and of itself is a joke.

    The Republicans should be ashamed about the way they participated in the Stimulus Bill. They had their collective heads up and locked. They (the Republicans) had better get serious about a major change in attitude and 'get with it' or they will never (God forbid) get back in to the White House much less hold on to their seats in the Congress.

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

    nayve uf we sebd fiid t akasja for te starvng citzens up there until they each get their three thosand frefund check plus.

    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Martizmo

    I do agree with his comments that this is generation theft, we are putting the tab on our children. Why are they crying about this now, how about the two gulf war tabs, and the bush bank bailout tab. They have no room to talk. It's time for conservatives to stand back and let the democrats fix all there f ups like they have always done.

    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. travis

    wow McCain, can you be any more of a poor loser? just call it quits and check into a nursing home.

    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Chris

    I find it interesting that McCains talking about bipartisanship when he proposed his own 500 mil plan including only tax cuts and infrastructure spending, a plan that the dems pretty much already incorporated but one that provided little stimulus. That plan 36 republicans voted for i believe. Thats 36 people that thought there should be ZERO stimulus in the bill. Which obviously was not gonna be the solution. So I think Obama did pretty well getting 61/64.

    February 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Les, Utah

    In the South I grew up in, we would have called it 'comical', to avoid being nasty and calling it what it is, 'idiotic', to have a man who for the better part of two years, acknowledged that Economics was his weakest suit, and proved it over and over, is now the Republican spokesman regarding economic policies. I have yet to figure out what his strong suits are (other than being a fighter pilot who was shot down and spent 6 or so years in a prison camp, and 'has the scars to prove it'). Great preparation place for the presidency.
    And he pledged his support for Obama! What a hypocritical s.o.b. he and his joined-at-the-hip partners in the Senate are.
    If it weren't for the necessity for speed in doing something, I would like to have seen the Dems call the Reps. bluff and dare someone to filibuster. Then Americans could really see who has their interests at heart. I am sure there aren't enough dumb people in America that would keep these rats in office longer than the next election.

    February 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. Dee Dee Lynn

    Hey Ryan, I did see what's in the bill. Aid to state and local governments that are on the verge of bankruptcy, money to fix roads and bridges that collapse and kill people because they have not been repaired, oh yes, and strict limits on bonuses for bailed out companies.

    Let me break it down for you and Johnny Mac. The Republicans ran up a huge deficit giving billions and trillions away to their friends in defense contracting (it seems even the military was in on the payola), oil (remember how under Bush oil companies never paid their royalties to the government) and banking (this needs no comment). Everyone else got well, they got a little piece of hardware that you twist to insert.

    Now, money is going to pay for things that regular people need, and the fat cats are being reigned in. And what did you expect from Johnny Mac? That he would admit that he and his cronies have NO CLUE about what to do except push the same policies that got us into this mess?

    February 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. SusanM

    It WAS a bad beginning, but only because we were coming off an 8 year train wreck at the hands of the repubs... John McCain needs to put himself in a nice old folks' home and butt out.

    February 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Witness to History

    Let's see.

    McCain picked Sarah Palin, who was terrified of Putin's head in Alaskan airspace. Putin, the man who is actually DOING something about the Somali pirates.

    McCain, he has links to ViaGlobal, they had a role in tricking Haji Bashir Noorzai into coming to the US to be arrested despite promises to the contrary. I'm sure the world would really trust him.

    Finally, what a hypocrite. He should be loyal to Obama, Obama is president, and McCain should respect that. His actions are showing him to be the neocon that he has always denied being.

    February 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. Lynn

    John McCain, you are a hypocrite. You recently told the world how you respected Barack Obama and how you would support his presidency. You're displaying poor sportsmanship and just can't get over losing. And, I still would like to know what you were thinking when you chose Sarah Palin.

    February 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Melody Chapin

    President Obama kept his promise to help every individual who ranges from poverty stricken to the financially endowed. He also sat down with Republicans to construct the bill. It is the Republicans who said they would be willing to reach across the aisle including, you, Senator McCain, who have refused to reach back.

    February 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. lied to

    oh stop all this bipartisan bickering... and gimme your money. i want it Now. Obama luvs me and he wants to gimme all i want. Obama is going to gimme from all your childrens's money and that makes me very happy. gimme, gimme gimme. i deserve a break today, and you deserve to gimme it.

    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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