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. Scott

    After everyone has filtered out all the juvenile retorts on this blog, I would suggest that you spend the time to become educated about just how this mess came about. CNBC has an excellent documentary called "House of Cards", detailing how the combination of pro-home ownership policies, low interest rates, lack of oversight and just plain greed got us into this mess. This greed was not only confined to Wall street, but begins with the homeowners that bought houses that they obviously could not afford without reading the fine print, the mortgage brokers who falsified applications to gain the approvals, the mortgage companies who turned around and sold those mortgages to Wall Street, who in turn bundled millions of dollars worth of questionable grade products into AAA rated instruments, and the foreign investors who bought them without a clue as to what they were buying. Wall Street has a significant but by no means solitary role in the current crisis.

    The way to fix this is to for both sides to work together to analyze the problem and develop the solution. This will require putting aside both partisan bickering and arrogance, and using the best ideas from both sides of the aisle. The public's perception that the Democratic congress has used this opportunity to go on a spending spree, steamrollering billions of dollars of non-stimulus related pork and social programs into the bill, helps neither their image or the economy. Pelosi and Reid may be well advised to remember the fate of the party in the 1994 election, when the Democratically controlled congress acted with impunity, over-promising and under-delivering. The current congress already has a two-year track record of under-delivering, so they're well on their way to a 1994 repeat.

    February 15, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. George in ABQ

    John McShame is the biggest political loosers of all time. His Repub bud GWBush destroyed his presidental aspirations twice. First during the primaries in 2000 when the Carl Rove hate spin machine went as far to say McCain had fathered a biracial child just before S. Carolina primary. They annihalited him and his campaign shortly thereafter. The second time was this current election. GWBush approval rating was in the gutter so McCain could not use the pres to campaign for him therefore thanks to fellow Repub pres it sunk him again. The man needs to stop flapping his arms around like a lost penquin that he is and do this nation a great favor and dissapear.

    February 15, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Matt, Canoga Park

    Looks like McCain is right judging from all the Liberal Sheep and their angry venting. They can't handle the fact that after a month they realize Barry Do-Nothing is just doing nothing. He lied to us all about being open and has done nothing but hide. He lied about giving us a chance to read the bill for a week before it is voted on. He lied about his transparency of government and then the next day breaks his own rules.

    Yeah the sheep are angry, they were lied to by their great leader. They are angry because they are suddenly opening their eyes and realizing that the president has no influence over the economy. They never did. They are angry because they thought they were done being preached fear by their president and all their president preaches now is fear.

    We are told America will not be around on Monday if we don't clear this bill on Friday. Yeah we were lied to and now they must vent their anger but they can't vent at the one who is causing all this fear for he is devine and beyond reproach.

    February 15, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. Obama Cares

    mccain is green with envy, he's so jealous, you are a pitiful excuse for an American mccain, there's NO HONOR LEFT IN YOU.

    February 15, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. Candace W.

    This is funny to me. I didn't like a small percentage of the bill either but most of the bill I think will stimulate the economy (I'm no economist though) and create jobs. I for one am tired of hearing the GOP complain about the stimulus plan and I would love to hear them have an idea besides tax cuts that has clearly not worked. The Washington Post had a pie chart that said this bill has 24% spending and the rest was equally divided between tax cuts and aid to the states (to help with unemployment benefits and what not). What are they complaining about? A tax cutting bill won't help bring jobs (it hasn't for the last few years, in fact we've lost plenty of jobs). If the GOP was in control like they were previous years they would've muscled their own bill through so the Dems did what they had to. Get over the amount of it TARP was the biggest mismanagement of taxpayer $$$ ever and the GOP voted for that...what a bunch of hypocrits!!!

    February 15, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. sick n tired of CNN moderators

    Oh but its OK to put you're presidential campaign on hold to make sure Wall Street gets their bailout! Didn't have a problem then! Maybe because it was Bush's idea that it didn't seem like a bad idea! WHAT A HYPOCRITE!

    February 15, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. llabesab

    The greatest "transparency" of the Obama administration is that every thinking American can see right through him. Remember that old saw, "..where's the beef?" It's been replaced with, "..where's the change?"

    February 15, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Oh No!


    Steven February 15th, 2009 12:38 pm ET

    I can NOT believe the people posting on this board!!! Show some respect for Mr McCain he is a true american servant. I voted for Obama and I am already now thinking that I have made a mistake. I guess time will tell but please people don't divide our Country!
    Hey Steven, the GOP divided our country during the Presidential campaign. You know, the 'real American' and such. You can't blame the current administration. It's already done!

    February 15, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Linda32

    Comments like that from John McCain are worth as much as his "fundamentals of the economy are strong" statement.

    Stop being an angry BITTER OLD man and get to work. Last I checked, bipartisanship was a two way street and McCain and the other Senators are stuck on one side of the street!

    February 15, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. Carmen

    Oh my McCain go away you have nothing to say I thought you had a better plan than Obama but I failed to hear it all I hear is your sour grapes your disrespect and hopes that he will fail. If he fails the American people fail so how American are you. Your state is in real trouble and your fellow republicans got us there. You know nothing about the economy when it tanked you ran to Washington did nothing and here you stand criticizing President Obama a truly brilliant man.

    Cant say the same for you. Time to retire to one of the many homes you own what was it 13. and leave the problem to the new President who is not even in office a month but you already are predicting a negative future for him. Wow you are just a negative old man so vanish please. We dont want your opinion.

    February 15, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. Kim

    Two words. SOUR GRAPES!

    February 15, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. neil

    With little (1 billion) for small business and a cost of $250,000 per short term job created how could anyone support this theft of tax payers money?

    February 15, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. mom

    So, McCain is cricizing the stimulous package? What does he offer up that would be better? All through the campaign, he said tax cuts. You can't pay taxes if you're not employed.

    February 15, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. buzzcut

    I don't think that Obama plans to leave this country in great debt by the time he is through. He will raise taxes on John McCain and others, who benefitted greatly from the trillion dollar tax cuts given by his friend, George Bush. He will let those tax cuts expire. John McCain seems as grumpy now as he did on the campaign trail. I give thanks to God, every day, for him and Sara Palin losing the election.

    February 15, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. Greg

    Any more I disregard anything that McCain says. He proved he doesn't have the stomach to carry the R's water in the last election campaign when he didn't have the cahonnes to fight for us. He needs to retire and just GO AWAY.

    He never showed he wanted the presidency- that his campaign was just a fantasy. John, you threw the RNC under the bus and have done serious harm to a viable party. RETIRE – GO AWAY. Your 'Maverick' style is useless and a joke. You lost – we've noticed. You're too little and too late.

    February 15, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. freda

    Out of step, John McCain? You have really become an insult to the intelligance of the majority of Americans. You, Boehner and the rest of your friends have made it abundantly clear that you are on a mission for President Obama to "fail."

    What are you afraid of? Does it disgust you that the millions of people who are in need will finally benefit from the President's administration? Are you afraid that the new administration will succeed? Seach your heart, John McCain, – after reading your statements, if you are really serious about this Country, then you will hang your head in shame because of your stance and realize that your true color has been exposed.

    Just do the right thing and encourage Boehner and the rest of the crew to leave President Obama alone and let him do his job. You have had more than 15 minutes. You are history and "out of step."

    I will not give you, John McCain and Group, any more of my valuable time, so this will be the last time I will comment on anything you have to say.

    February 15, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. Mary

    Patrick, let me guess, you are the Republican who did not vote for the bill. Why doesn't government create jobs, politicians are pad by the government and look how many are still employed with good insurance, so don't tell me that government does not create jobs. Ask Blackwater and Halliburton do the government create jobs and make people filthy rich when it is gotten dishonestly.

    February 15, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Mary

    Pat, my bag, I am sorry. that was the wrong comment. Forgive me.

    February 15, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. Willy Brown

    The bill was bum rush through only to have #44 take of to chi town for some supper.

    February 15, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. stan cooper

    I can't imagine the plan McCain would have brought forward. Obviously they electorate were not convinced that he should lead at this time.

    I think the Republicans would be wise to analyze there role in the economic ship wreck because America can see that they were the guys at the helm when we were dashed on the rocks.

    If the Republican agenda was to destroy the economy then we have to give them an A, if they thought their policies would keep American Capitalism strong into the 21st century, F for sure.

    McCain, do your party a favor and fix what is wrong with the GOP or kiss it goodbye.

    February 15, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. Steve from Florida

    You lost! Shut up McShame!

    February 15, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. Coherent1

    Patrick, I thought they didnt read the bill? By the way, if it's not bipartisan how in the world did we get the Rebuplican tax cuts in there? How in the world did it drop to $787billion. These people are demonstrate con artistry to a T.

    February 15, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. Sumar

    This man voted for the Bush Bank Bailout, remember how he left his campaign to rush back to DC? This is the man that said the Economy is sound.........this is the man that Picked Palin for his running mate........a little advice to the GOP if you want to win any seats back in the Senate and the House if you want to have a sitting President in the White House ever again, then you better get rid of your Rush Limbaugh's, Hannity's, Palin's, McCain's (remember he lost it for you this last election) and these kind of personalies are going to put and end to the GOP........

    February 15, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. rhonda

    come on you guys, mccain is just doing what he has always done. Hes watching out for you and for our country. He always has been and always will be working hard for you. Hes not george bush, he doesn't even like george bush but hes too much of a gentleman to announce that publicly. He knows he made a mistake with sarah palin but again hes too much of a gentleman to put her down in any way.; Because he doesn't agree with the stimulus plan does not make him a sore loser, hes always been very verbal when it comes to what he believes is right for our country. Obama has a nice personality yes, but mccain knows his stuff, its too bad people were sucked in by the media coverage. If the media wants someone to look good publicly then that shall prevail, if the media wants someone to look not so good publicly, then that shall prevail as well. Too bad.

    February 15, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    John McCain lost. The policies of the Republican Party have failed us.
    Yet they want things to go their way or without their support. We will ask the people to give the Democrats more seats in the Senate, because the Democrats have a way of having intraparty conflicts which will keep them in check. They seldom can walk in lock step for long.

    February 15, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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