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

    It amazes me that any critical comments of Obama are greeted with such vitriolic replies. Mr. McCain does have a little truth in what he is saying, if people would just open their ears, rather than being all partisan, and claiming he's a sore loser, or old, or other negative comments.

    It is entirely true that the final text of the 1000+ page bill was available for less than 24 hours before the House voted. That's hardly enough time to read the bill, let alone contemplate, edit, improve or revise things. This for the most expensive single bill the government has ever sent to the President's desk.

    Those that voted for it voted with their fingers crossed, following the party orders.

    It's depressing to see that Obama has already broken one promise – to change how Washington works. As far as I can see, this is the same old tactic of the ruling party getting their way over the protests of the minority party. It's only that the roles are switched compared to what they were.

    I had really hoped for better with Mr. Obama.

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. Thomas Paine

    Wait till the dollar collapses and both bailouts fail. Then the new solution will be the Amero. And it too will be pushed down our throats. Wake up people, we are losing the country
    that our founding fathers sacrifaced so much for. Our republic is vanishing right before our eyes thanks to likes of Bush, McCain ,Obama. and the ignorant, uneducated citizens who accept what main stream media presents to them as the truth! We will see who is right. RON PAUL is a true patriot, REMEMBER THAT!

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. Mr. H

    Does Mr. "The fundamentals of the economy is sound" have something to say about what expert economists unanimously think should be done? And what is the unemployment rate in Arizona again? I hope Arizonanians are listening carefully...

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Action

    The Republicans had their chance. Why should Obama negotiate with the party whose leaders ordered no cooperation BEFORE the bill was even finalized? The finalized bill included more tax breaks than Obama wanted and cut many programs that he did want...and that's not trying to be Bi-Partisan?

    L.A. Times headline Saturday morning "Stimulus will reach nearly all"...how in God's name can the Republicans actually be against that?

    Voters will remember who fought for their welfare and who played petty political games with it. This is the end of the Party of Lincoln as hijacked by Goldwater, Reagan, Limbaugh, Coulter, Bush, Cheney, Hannity et al.

    Good Riddance!

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. gimpy

    The last eight years mcain and the repubs doubled the size of govt, the debt, expensive wars that we started................yes folks have we fogot. No weapons of md meant we were wrong......wrong.........wrong. Sorry had to be said three times. Now they want partisanship. For the last forty to fifty years it is an embarrasing fact that the congress has not taken on new or big issues just danced around them. If you bitarsisan something it gets washed down every time you cant please everyone. That is not what democracy is about holding hands and getting along in congress. A direction must be chosen and taken not stand in the intersection and argue. You cannot go down two roads at once. They have been barting our tax dollars for so long they all think they get a piece of it. I for one a happy we are picking a new direction. War, debt, and helping the big businesses were not warking.

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. TC

    "patricia campbell February 15th, 2009 12:24 pm ET

    Sit back you Dems and see all your freedom and ability to think for yourself taken away. Just wait and see. We'll see who has the last laugh."

    PATRICIA – Are you kidding? Please tell us you are kidding? After the last 8 years of having our civil liberties stripped to the point of having virtual strip searches through xray at the airport you have the audacity to make that statement? Did you sleep through the Patriot Act? I guess you must have drank the punch at that Republican fundraiser or information session you apparently went to.

    February 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    It is sure a good thing McCain did not get elected as president. He wouldn't have nonw what to do as he demonstrate when he put his campaign on hold.

    What a joke he offers too by calling Obama's first three and half weeks " a bad beginning." Obama did more in this short time then most presidents do in one term of their presidency.

    February 15, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |

    Where were these guys when Bush spent so much in his two wars?
    Where were these guys when the economy took a nose dive down the toilet?

    Where were these guys when our debt went up under Bush?

    Now you are all concern about fiscal spending? Please give me a break

    February 15, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. Steve

    Boy there are a lot of idiots on here. If you think that this so called "stimulus" package is really going to work your NUTS!.
    Let's see, we'll just let the same people who have destroyed the world's financial system try to fix it by spending almost a trillion
    dollars with little or no fiscal discipline whatsoever. No, this whole mess is going to get a lot worse in the coming months and for that matter years! Keeep dreaming that Obama is going to somehow lift us out of this mess by spending, spending, spending. It's totally irresponsible and ludicrous. Be ready to accept inflation in a big way in the coming years because it's coming. And tell me, where is the "change we can believe in"? Sounds like more of the same to me.

    February 15, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Art Breaux, AS, BS, Biology/Chemistry/Nuc Tech

    Well, well, well... all the learned speak! Most of these comments portend an ignorant point of view, at best. FREEDOM! Wow! Let's let the government decide what we are going to do with our businesses, ESPECIALLY since we are too stupid to do it on our own. The HUGE car companies are whining about how they need government bailout money and yet... alas ... who got them in a position to need it? WE DID since we refused to demand efficient vehicles since the 1970's! OMG LOL! (New speak from the ignorant!) Anyone insupport of this stupid effort to bailout the "industries" is only pushing a shortsighted, short term, and very brief "tide-me-over". Fools! Well, this is our Democratic state of affairs: we must abide by the majority herd, no matter how close the cliff is. You ignorant b@$^@)#$! THIS WILL ONLY HELP THE SHORT TERM! Let the stupid be culled! Our money is simply being wasted. Go ahead, support this foolish bailout, but mind you, when those companies are wallowing in their stupid engineering practice of hope, don't say that I didn't tell you so. McCain is the only whisper in the canyon of dry desert air that makes any sense what so ever. This bailout is WRONG! You idiots! DO THE MATH! There are small companies that need the helping hand and small foreign companies who would move into this country to re-engergize our economy at the drop of a highschoolprom queens' panties! But! You fools want to support the stupid engineering principles of the past. We WILL DIE due to this stupid package.

    February 15, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. TXChick4Obama

    Unfortunately the people who voted Obama still wont face reality that this guy will not be the Messiah! Now I'm off to the Bush Ranch to thank W for a great 8 years.

    Phil – Hate to break it ya, but you won't find your beloved "W" at any ranch, as it was just a farce during his presidency. Ole' Georgie is nestled in an exclusive neighborhood in Dallas – one that used to be restricted to whites only.

    February 15, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. A. Rice

    McCain sent Palin out to do his dirty tricks. She did everything in her power to discredit Obama, McCain stood by and said nothing to discount her negative comments. He now stands strong with the Republicans and has lots to say...."WE VOTE NO!" SCREW THE AMERICAN PEOPLE...LET THEM EAT CAKE!!

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

    Looking at the comments, no wonder we are in a mess. Each side thinks the other is the devil incarnate neither side is prepared to compromise their ideology for the benefit of the country.

    Cutting taxes does not work very well as it increases debt, increasing government spending will not work as it also increases debt. We cannot borrow our way out of a recession only real growth end a recession, borrowing only ameliorates the impact of the recession on the general population.

    Our politicians are not prepared to give us the bad news, standards of living will drop and taxes will go up to pay for the mess the global financial markets have got us into.

    February 15, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Michael

    All of you writing on this page are probably on welfare, and realize now that a Democrat is president your welfare checks just got bigger. Congratulations crack smokers.

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

    I'm sure that money for Amtrak will create jobs, they haven't ever turned a profit. Money to buy new computers, money to the arts, money to non-tax payers. oh yea, thats the right direction. I beleive it was Bill that signed NAFTA and sent our jobs out of country. Now you want to throw trillions of dollars out there so illegals will have a job. You can't borrow your way out of debt!

    February 15, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Grant, Centerville, Utah

    Republican thinking on bipartisanship goes like this:

    You want to be my friend? That's Great!
    But I don't want to be your friend.
    So, you are a very, very bad person
    Because you say you want to be my friend
    But you are not my friend.

    February 15, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. gimpy

    where were all these people that are whinig about the size of the package five months ago when we just had,....had to have it now the first 800b that the avg joe never saw. Half of it was revamped less than three months later. Let obama have a swing at it now and keep quiet.......................

    February 15, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Oh great!

    Here is the man who ran for president while constantly saying that action came first and fore-most to negotiation.

    Now, he's saying that negotiation is on the fore-front of his political agenda. The only agenda I can suss out thus far is that he will change his tune to which ever side makes it easier for him to be negative towars the current administration.

    It has become increasingly clear to me that the Republican party has no other agenda than to be divisive and irksome. Its time for this party to disband and retire the 'old boys club' into the nursing home and let a more progressive, possitive, inclusive, and decisive generation get on with crafting a safe and secure future for all Americans.

    February 15, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Corwin7

    That's right John Galt...in case your momma didnt tell you this...it's not "christian" to have more than you can ever need and complain about the people across the street starving to death "too loudly" during your dinner party. You say "socialism" and "spreading the wealth"...I say "UNRESTRAINED GREED" Republicans never fail to amaze me with thier utterly soulless anti-americanism. You guys tried to destroy the (largely) democratic unions by shipping jobs overseas like they were toxic waste. IT FAILED. The reason? Its simple...democrats aren't like republicans...they don't vote based on thier income, church affiliations, or the number of AK 47's they own...they vote based on thier sense of fairness and the common good to the country they live in and an archaic notion the republicans seem to have lost far behind...the notion that ALL AMERICANS matter.

    February 15, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Dave

    Hey, "Oh Please", it's spelled, "insight", not in site. You're a true idiot. John McCain knows alot more about governing than obama does. At least he does'nt owe any of his success or homes to a convicted felon. I don't think obama could say the same. Learn to write there, Idiot! Did you even finish High School?

    February 15, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Stu-Florida

    A majority of us in the Country believed his choice of Sarah Palin was "off to a bad campaign". That didn't seem to bother him, though.
    Any start by any President will be rough with the S___ hole the republicans left us in.
    Obama is doing the best he can with what he's been left to deal with. Give him time... give him support and watch him AND US fly!

    McCain and the Repubs should take their sour grapes and make more whine out of them!!!

    February 15, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. Chris

    Wah wah wah.

    The GOP lost, if John McCain didn't notice. And since they added $4 trillion to the national debt, and Iraq, which cost more than the stimulus bill, they've no leg to stand on.

    February 15, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. judesuper

    Yes, because of the do nothing republicans! But the question is, what have you done for us gramps? Nothing. You and Graham can go away. I see that you are running for your 5th senate term in Arizona. Hopefully, we (Arizona's voters) will pull off the all important loss for you and vote in anyone that runs against you. Retire already old man.

    Gabriel Giffords, are you out there? Run against this has-been. You will win that senate seat. We need new and fresh ideas. The plus side is we won't need to hear him screech any longer.

    February 15, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Matthew, Detroit

    Patrick in Arizona,

    Your Governor is a Democrat. She is your problem no McCain.

    If your state is in Debt you should send her a nasty comment. Oh thats right, she bailed and went to work for Barack. Great idea for Homeland Security.

    Maybe you can elect someone that is fiscally responsible.

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

    Shut up, McCain. Let's wait and see how this stimulus package works and where the country's at in 4 years. If things aren't better THEN maybe you can shoot your mouth off.

    February 15, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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