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. MattTX

    There hasnt been a person to get excited about to vote for president in a long time. We have had Gore, Dole, Bush, Obama, Clinton, Kerry,Mccain to choose from. Kind of getting tired of picking the person i think would do less harm. Bush was a two term president bcos thats how bad Gore and Kerry were. Obama seemed to be better than Mccain but deifnitly not a choice for president. If only Colin Powell would run!

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

    I think the Republican's should calm down & sit down. They should
    start thinking about the American people now in our time of crisis,
    not themselves. John has everything now, you'd think this P.O.W.
    days would help him understand what's going on , it's a war of
    sorts, and economic war! It's the Republican's who got us into this
    mess in the first place, deregulations up the wazoo and lots & lots
    of illegal stuff. Put on your thinking caps, you said the stimulus
    wouldn't even work before you saw it! Get objective, there has to be
    a few good minds between you all....come up with some solutions
    and get a life!

    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Sammy

    Why all the personal snipes at Mcain about his age, and wealth? It seems that Americans are not debating issues, but rather personalitys.

    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. david Wilson

    Come on John, you just voted for another 2.5 trillion tax cut for the rich, to continue the 2 trillion cuts that Bush already did, and the one trillion and counting tragic cost of the Iraq war. Talk about "generational theft" and the height of hypocrisy! How can you talk about bipartisanship with a straight face. We finally got some support to our education, transportation, and energy policy after years of neglect and exploitation. Please retire to your Sedona dude ranch or join the ranks of those who want to set their personal agendas aside to build a better future for the citizens of this country. You have lost the respect you had as a true, non partisan maverick that set you apart from your antediluvian fellow party hacks. When are you going on with Rush and Hannity?

    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. OxyCon

    Everything Obama says comes with an expiration date. That's why his head is on a swivel as he speaks...he's talking out of both sides of his mouth!
    For instance:

    “There are no red states. There are no blue states. There are the United States of America” – Obama

    Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”

    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. Alex

    On Tuesday each of 106,000,000 Tax Filers (Joint or Single and excluding those 56,000,000 who file but don't/haven't pay/paid taxes) will effectivley spend $14,000 ($7,500 Tuesday, $3,750 government estimated interest and $2,750 reasonable program cost overruns). Therefore, if you reasonably expect to recieve $14,000 from this bill you should be elated.

    For the +/- 200 enthusiatic endorsers of this bill in this comment section that represents $2,800,000. Now my guess is that the 200 respondents won't be recieving anywhere near this amount. For myslef, I can tell from CNN's own descrition of the program that I will see $800 and maybe can pick up a few penies here and there along the way if I get lucky.

    So how do you continue to have runaway government that robs the people blind. You tell people, like those above, that you are helping them, you rely on them to be too stupid to use a calculator and then you take them to the cleaners while they smile, cheer and ask for more.

    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. REG in AZ

    One more thought: Lindsay Graham, McCain, the Republicans, where was their consideration and cooperation of the Democrats during the Bush years? Two rights don't make a wrong but honesty and a little humility does make one more believable.

    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. Anonymous


    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Common Sense

    Republican's did not complain once about the billions spent...im sorry wasted...in Iraq. But when a Democrat comes along and worries about "spending" money in his own country to help those in need it all of a sudden is a problem and we can just forget about the past 8 years. Wake up McCain. What would you have done? Pretended like nothing was happening and continue tax cuts? Yeah, CLEARLY that was working.

    February 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. jay

    John you old fool, STOP LYING that you have better alternatives


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

    McCain's got all his financial expertise from Sen Graham from Tx. Sen Graham is responsible for his PRO de-regulation that took away all of the protection put in place after the Great Depression Part 1. We had Banking, Wall Street and the commodity markets all 3 different enities as protection. Graham, McCain and the Republican greed machine de- regulated for higher profits for the same people they bailed out prior to the election. This is why gas prices were almost $4.00 a gal. Oil in now being traded in the futures market. Biggest benefactor...Morgan Stanley. MCCain has a lot of nerve...If we had a media organization that would ask questions perhaps the Republicans would not be so bold right now. They should be ashamed.

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

    The Republicans are whining that they haven't had time to read the 1100 page stimulus bill. But it is largely the same bill that was written in the House several weeks ago. If the Republicans have had more than two weeks to read 1100 pages and can't get it done, what do they think they are getting paid for? Oh right ... it's difficult to read a bill from a golf cart on the thirteenth fairway!

    February 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Private Person

    Evolm spewed:

    "All bow before the black president. All bow before your new god.
    Only 43% of white people voted for this illegal buffoon. He's not my president."

    If he isn't your president, you must be here illegally. LEAVE. You don't belong here. Your shelf has expired and you're stinking up the joint.

    February 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Greg Orlowsky

    to Ryan on Feb 15 th. You commented that Clinton left us with a surplus. That is incorrect. He left us with a current account(year to year) surplus. We were still in debt my friend. One other thing. Clinton did have a Republican Congress. They were in my opinion a good balance for each other.

    February 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. REG in AZ

    Sorry for the repeat, just corrected mistake: One more thought: Lindsay Graham, McCain, the Republicans, where was their consideration and cooperation for the Democrats during the Bush years? Two wrongs don't make a right but honesty and a little humility does make one more believable.

    February 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. Lisette Root

    Perhaps some of the strange behavior of our elected officials , Republican and Democrats, is simply fear of the truth being made public. I would be interested to know the actual amount of American tax payers money that we have spent, in just the last eight years or so, around the world. I am sure the figures would be staggering. President Obama is like a light turned on, in a dark room, full of roaches. The light of real truth makes them scramble to the shadows. Our country deserves our money and attention. The Republican "base" of America is like an unsound house, the foundation is crumbling, and the wood is full of termites. No matter how you "pretty " it up, even the best paint in the world cannot fix an unsound structure. Quite a few Democrats also seem to be hesitant to step up and help our Nations people. I also find it curious that, for instance, Alaska's governor gave Alaskans money in the form of a windfall oil profit. Last time I looked, Alaska is part of America. Why didn't everyone in America get a tiny piece of the pie? And didn't that make her a "distributor" ? And I also hear that rural villages in Alaska have desperate people, literally unable to get food and gasoline, at a fair price? I would think that the Least we can do for our own citizens is to insure their survival. Last time I checked, America is capable of dropping aid from the air to "help" other countries, so why aren't we doing that for our own people? We Are capable, but I guess we pesky American peons don't deserve help . Wait a moment, didn't we just have an election? Yes, we did, and our new voice is President Obama, and Vice President Biden. They are actually working quite hard to help the common American . Our country deserves every penny of our tax money to "grow the brand" of America. We have an enormous amount to answer for during these last eight years, particularly concerning our hypocratic former President and former Vice President. If you really believe in God, you sure have a funny way of showing it. Let us dispense with the "Old Testiment" and listen to the words from Jesus Crist himself. I personally do not think he would approve of our form of "helping thy brother" with bombs and tanks. So, please quit using Gods name in war, that is wrong on many levels. I am looking forward to seeing our country rebuild itself up from a new foundation. I hope to see high speed trains built all over America. I am also looking forward to eradicating poverty and suffering. I think we all realize that not everyone can go to college. I feel certain that vocational training from a young age will help our people flourish. Only when America truly flourishes , will we be ready to lead the world again.

    February 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. Selom

    There is a reason we voted for Obama/Biden and not McCain/Palin. Such arrogance from some one who doesn't understand the economy and has Joe the plumber for a role model and Cindy for a confidant. If we wanted both parties to have equal say in governance, then we wouldn't need the general election.
    Dear Republicans, get through your heads. Obama doesn't have to consult with you. He did it out of courtesy.
    BTW, why are we still talking to the losers anyway?

    February 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. Tim Warneka

    McCain and his economic views were resoundly and strongly defeated in the 2008 election. The man has no room to speak. I for one am enormously glad that this man is not POTUS.

    February 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. RopoloWyo

    McCain reminds me of the little boy who murdered his parents and then asked the court for mercy because he was an orphan.

    Talk about Orwellian...McCain and the GOP'ers can boycott negotiations, stand on the sidelines like they were spectators, vote a party line to uphold Rush Limbaugh's hope for Obama's failure AND then they have the guts to say bipartisahip doesn't work. It is working for them!

    February 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Fred

    If you ask me the entire republican delegation (with the exception of three brave Senators) are still clinging to the notion that coddling the rich and hoping for a trickle down is morally bankrupt.

    It's time the republican party embraced what is best for the majority of Americans or they will be forever known as the "Party of the Rich".

    February 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Obama all the way

    This guy hasn't had a clue...doesn't have a clue now. McCain needs to retire. He's old in age as well as old in his policies. (I'm a senior so I can say that). He's part of the problem that got us in this mess. He's also a sore loser, ran a terrible campaign.

    President Obama is sooo intelligent and well spoken and very knowledgable. He's just the man we need. I changed my political party for Obama.

    February 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Ralph

    Well, after an entire career John McCain has finally become a bona fide right wing Republican. And like his GOP buddies in Congress he has found comfort in the cheep seats.

    February 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. jared

    you got to be kidding me; while hes trying to undermine prez obama he should be worried about the drug cartels that have made teir way all through arizona. and virtually taking over that state w/ illegals ,crime, kidnappings. he should take care of his own house before he tries to tear down somebody elses.

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Rob

    When you profer the same ideas that have failed for eight years, and they are not embraced anew, 'tis odd to place the blame on those who have no desire to continue on the same failed paths. Put forth fresh, new, workable ideas, and they'll be embraced. Until then, look within yourself to discover the reason you had less part in the solution then you craved.

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Abdul Olufowobi

    Seriously, I don't want to be rude to "Senator John McCain" because he's old enough to be my grandfather.But what i don't appreciate is pretty simple.....How in the world McCain going to be on national TV raising doubts about President Obama plans moving this country forward. Obviously, repulicans ruined the country economic & entire world too voted more than 99% times supporting George W. Bush policies destroying surplus left by President Bill Clinton, and i'll be happy if you'll kindly "Shut-Up" for good we're tired of hearing your voices again please!!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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