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. Wendy

    WOW – who is not surprised that he said that! Shocking!! He is just bitter that he did not win and it's time to get over it and move on – obviously there was a reason you didn't win the election and it's this whining that just reaffirms it!

    February 15, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. Jhride

    Of course McCain wishes he were president. yeah he's the loser of the election, but doesn't make him sore necessarily. he's got to be more aware of the mistakes he made in his campaign than he might lead on. but, it's the country's fundamental well being he's trying to talk about here, not "I would be a better president" or something. he's legitimately concerned about it. what he's saying is logical like him or not. who doesn't want quick action from Pres. Obama, and for him to turn things around (like HIM or not)? but, who wants to see the financial structure of the country face imploding from throwing more and more potentially misguided money at the problem? let's see it work out. the leaders need to be able to work together.

    February 15, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. LK in NJ


    I think what the GOP is saying is: Sit at the table with us and let us make ALL the decisions. Now that is bipartisanship.

    February 15, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. Noel TX

    Mccain,,, you are really jealous ... dats not good for the country.. if you love the country and have scare to prove it .. help obama and america and not gossip and talk sh....t...if you can go to he....ll for a minute

    February 15, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. Sally S.F.SD

    So McCain is whinning about the stimulus package, saying it is robbing the future generations huh? Let"s think about this.....if the republicant's had it THEIR way, we would stay in Iraq for God knows how long, ROB this generation of their mothers and fathers all on a lie, spend WELL over the amount of the stimulus bill calls for now, for our FUTURE generation to pay for and not produce jobs? Oh thats right, republicant's will create jobs for this generation and the next... Iraq!!!! At least this president is TRYING to do something to get us back on the right track, and without blood on our hands. It may not be perfect, nothing ever is. It's nice to know that we FINALLY have someone Back in office that understands what real people live like. Most people are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth looking down on the people while in the many castles they own and yell " LET THEM EAT CAKE!!!' This country was born from the bottom up not from the top down.

    February 15, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. Greg Greenman

    I have one question for republicans. Please tell me what needs to be done? If the stimulus package is not the answer, please, without bad mouthing what we currently have, without saying whats in the bill that is wasteful, please tell me what should we do. Anyone up for the challenge?

    February 15, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. Albo58

    The loons commenting on this article have certainly missed the point. The U.S. government just approved an almost $1T bill with no one in Washington actually reading it! Face it folks, you've been ripped off again!

    February 15, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. Tom

    If it was not for you GOP, the Bill could be much better. Please retire all your GOP Senators and let people live with some jobs. John go back to read some history and write something to keep for yourself.

    February 15, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Canaman

    CNN has become a reformed "FOX News". Conservative views, welcome; progressive views, tossed. Ridiculous. You people are doing the country a disservice by not being fair. Even your reporters now want to "grill" Pres. Obama. Where were they when Bush was unnecessarily sending soldiers to Iraq?? When would they report that Bush's war debt is one of the reasons America is gradually collapsing??

    You all keep reporting the enormity of the "Stimulus", which is fair. But what do you want the President to do?? Do nothing?? And you won't complain??

    Note: You don't have to post this because you won't anyway.

    February 15, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. NJVote08


    “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."
    So, why didn't you? 'YOUR WAY OR NO WAY' is that how it works with the Republicans?

    February 15, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Carl

    Joh S we already had a huge debt to China under the Republican 8yrs of Manifest Destiny years. The Republicans sold the United States, and its value on Human Rights for Debts. The Republicans sold America to Out Sourcing, eliminating Union power, creating vast workers VISA for professionals, and selling and diverting all their behind the scene deals were to be blamed on illegal Mexicans crossing the border to do low ending pay jobs. I don't see illegal mexicans working as telemarketers, technicians, Auto Plant workers, accountant, managers, electricians, and other technical jobs. They sold these jobs, the higher parts of the lay off issues, to outsourcing companies, and create visa for lower paid technicians from overseas. Yes Republicans...blame it on the Lawn Technicians from Mexico, or the Chicken Technicians from El Salvador?

    February 15, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. PhuBai

    I'm a proud Viet Nam veteran and, just for those to whom it makes a difference, I'm white. I tried, mightily, to bring myself to a point where I could have voted for John McCain. He'll always be a hero to me but his obvious courage, unfortunately, does not seem to extend to the political arena.
    The Republican party can't have its way anymore. Their idea of bipartisanship for the last eight years has been not much more than "Here it is, we've got the votes anyway, so just suck it up and vote for it.". Mostly, they've had their way with the Democrats. Now, they just don't seem to grasp the fact they're no longer in charge.
    I'm hoping, and believing, that President Obama will show all of us what true political courage is. I'm also praying, fervently, that the Democratic party will find the courage, somewhere, to follow him.

    February 15, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Mike A

    So McCain has decided that he needs to channel Rush Limbaugh.
    Bi-partisanship doesn't mena giving in to the bad policies of the Bush years. he has nothing to offer. It's time for the out touch old Rebublica panderer to do what's good for the country rather than his standing in the Republican Party.

    February 15, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Mary

    My, my, my, what did Mc'Shame say. Give the US a break. He did not vote on the bill, so why is he taking. We all have heard the saying, Hinds sight is twenty-twenty. We can all have an opinion when the action is over. Is this the same person who admitted he knew nothing about the economy? Why is he talking.

    February 15, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. An Independent in Oregon

    Hope February 15th, 2009 12:39 pm ET

    Pssst Hope, I think you meant "our" economy, not "are" economy. Anyway, put the doobie down and wake up. Your party blew it and now they will have to wait in the wings while our new President fixes your President's mistakes.

    February 15, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Alicia

    @ Paul H and all the other Repub bots. So for eight years the Repub did such a good job, right? We want them to guide us, right?

    Iraq war trillions of dollars of debt$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Inherit a Clinton surplus and turn it into a deficit$$$$$$$$$$$

    Yeah, they really got it down.....so we want to listen to the repubs who dont wear flag pins on their lapels anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. nancy

    I have ready all of these comments and have to agree that John McCain is out of touch with the American people as well as the other Reps still let in office. Benier, Cantor and the rest need a rest. Lets give it to them by not voting for any of them in 2010. Also if the bill so much of a problem for them and they disagree with it so much then I think that we should not force the money on them and withhold it from their States and districts. That way they won't have to be part of something they feel is bad for the country. NOT, I have not heard one of them say they won't take the money and run. Losers....all of them

    February 15, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. jr

    I have one thing to say..."The fundamentals of the economy are strong"...
    No why would anyone listen to what John McCain have to say about the
    economy...Get REAL...

    February 15, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  19. Lily

    When the Republicans are willing to give up some of their pay to aid the poor and desperate people who need food immediately, then I'll listen to their criticism of the stimulus package. If they have a better solution, bring it on. If not, shut up and take a look at how the American people are suffering because of a Republican generation that lasted way too long.

    February 15, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. jen

    mcCain u have had your day in the sun and the sun went down... over and out for you. Please stop interviewing this old man no one cares what he has to say he said it all on the campaign trail and guess what.

    HE LOST11111111

    February 15, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Jason

    I really think that Obama should have rubbed it in first after the election, rather than be nice. The just seems like all the republicans are big cry babies.

    February 15, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Robert E. Launey

    i see Obama's move a quick and correct one. We the people are under pressure and Obanna's quick action is going to help us.

    Simply, there are days you can spend time and wait, and some days you cannot do so.

    These is the kind of day that calls for action.

    Good work for Obama.

    February 15, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. Mary

    To Allie, I hope you sleep well at night. Why would you feel better if Mc shame and the same policies of george bush was in office, get over it . You play the color card every time you can make a statement like this. Where age do you live in, color is not written on application anymore. Where you here in slavery times? If you had someone who has screwed up the economy, such as Bush and the Reps, how can you say the country would be better if mr. shame had won. Get use to it Obama is the President and will be for the next four years. If you dont like it, get your party together and vote him out.

    February 15, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Rosemary

    Great show-but enjoyed your helicopter ride the best-my son was your pilot. . . Enjoyed watching him pilot John King around. As for McCain, sour grapes-their tactics are evident-gee, all you had to read were the latest modifications, should have already read the meat of it before-sour grapes.

    Please let me know how to contact John King through e-mail-he is not featured on any blogs.

    February 15, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  25. stoney_s

    "Are you saying that the republicans don't care about people being laid off?"

    Only a fool would believe that Republicans care about people being laid off. The sole agenda of the Republican party is to put more money into the pockets of the wealthiest people in the country. They are happy to use our love of country, idealism, religious beliefs and hard work to help them accomplish this.
    Did the wealthiest 5% of Americans benefit from the policies of the Bush administration? How about the anti-abortion people who so reliably voted Republican year after year?

    February 15, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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