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. Melody Chapin

    Funding domestic violence programs can create more social work jobs and support staff. Health care funding can increase more health care jobs. Improving census taking can create more jobs in its implementation. Cleaning up the environment has the potential for creating more green jobs. With increased funding comes increased responsibilities on the part of the recipient calling for increased workers.

    February 15, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Machiavelli, Baton Rouge, LA

    The Republicans must understand that there are trade-offs in bipartisan negotiating. Their idea of bipartisanship is when the opposition acquiesces to their every wish. When they controlled Congress, they would vote on measures only when they knew Democrats were not available to cast votes, and if they controlled Congress today, it would not be any differently.

    February 15, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. jeff

    I always love when the 30% party (the GOP) say that people who support Obama are somehow brainwashed or mesmarized, yet when it comes to disagreeing with people like Rush or Hannity, they think that they speak the gospel.

    Republicans like McCain wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so intellectually dishonest when it fits their purposes. Obama met with the republicans more in 2 weeks than Bush did with Democrats in 8 years.

    McCain proposed an alternative that was all tax cuts, and didn't even have any infrastructure spending that moderates from his own party were calling for. He is a bipartisan fraud, and what's worse is he knows it.

    February 15, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Chris

    Well, John you have been in the Senate for the last few years what have you done in the Bush years to help the mess we are in???

    February 15, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. Sherlock Bruce

    These are the same guys that sat there and did not say one word when the Bush Administration continued to tell the American people that our economy was sound when it was not. The Democrats stated that the Bush Administration did not include them in their discussions when the Republicans drated their bills. President Obama reached out to the Republicans but they are still stuck with this divisive politics mentality. This current financial crisis is a result of the Bush Aministration. It is simply pathetic that these people think that the citizens of this country do not knwo the difference.

    February 15, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  6. Lisa from Az

    John McCain and John Kyle are senators of a state at the bottom in education, in the top 4 for foreclosures and has the worst budget deficit. McCain brags that he hasn't brought one dime here. We are not pork! Tucson is facing 83 million dollars in deficit. McCain only comes to AZ for vacations and votes.

    February 15, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. Ron Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

    This is so wishy washy it just makes me sick to my stomach,.Republicans need to get away from the Bush era and fast or they will go down as the spoilers during this Obama administration.Remember the old saying if you arent a part of the solution then you must be a part of the problem.Either get on board our get out now.This is the kind of change Obama talks about Bucko!

    February 15, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. Patty in the CA mountains

    You can ask a girl all night long to dance with you, but if she consistently says "no", you have to eventually give up; either go home or ask someone else. The republicans consistently said no to Obama's overtures....they are not likeable enough to continue to ask.

    February 15, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. A Canadian Friend

    As an outsider (Canadian), I would just like to say – Give this man. your President, a chance. He has only been in office for less than a month. What could anyone do in that time? Give him help, not criticism and wait and see what he can accomplish.

    February 15, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. sandee in Portland

    Maybe none of their ideas were included because none of their ideas have worked in the past. Their biggest idea was more tax cuts; they didn't work before and they won't work now. They took away the 10% up to $15,000 tax credit for all homebuyers and changed it to $8,000 for first time home buyers only. As a realtor, I can tell you that was a bad change the republicans insisted upon. The $15,000 that no one would have had to pay back was good because it was inclusive for all buyers; the $8,000 is not good because it's only for first time home buyers.

    Of course, McCain doesn't have to worry about housing, he has a ton of them and they're all paid for by his wealthy wife.

    February 15, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. SA in OO

    This particular legislation never had a chance for bipartisan support. It is not a matter of finding common ground in working toward a shared goal, but the two parties, or at least their current representative in congress, have completely different views of the role that government should play in our lives.

    The Democrats have always believed government should be much more involved in directing and regulating our lives directly and the organizations and institutions that affect us. It is only natural that they would see the current situation as calling for even greater government intervention in all the institutions that are in crisis.

    The Republicans may give lip service to the need for some sort of short-term intervention. But when the legislation being considered calls for anything other than tax breaks – less government – they are conflicted. All of the other stimulus programs being proposed run contrary to their almost religious belief in the values of deregulation and an uncontrolled free markets as the strength of the country.

    February 15, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Lise T

    I heard an excellent challenge from a republican lady this morning on CSPAN. She challenged her party to show the American people that their state can pull itself up by its boot strings by not taking any of the money in the Recovery Plan. She did not say but I would guess the tax cuts portions, which are part of their fundemental belief will cure the financial crisis should not be rejected. I agree they should put their money where their mouths are. If this is so objectionable to your core values how can you partake? Republicans Senators who voted against and continue to rail against this bill should stand up and be counted in a significant demonstration of their position. Talk is cheap and any shovel ready project being line up for these funds should be investigated and exposed.

    February 15, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. Bill

    The only principles the republicans have left to abandon is corporate greed. They gave up their supposed principles of smaller government 8 years ago. Didn't they get the memo. Their leader of the last 8 years was the biggest spender on the planet. Repugs need to get over themselves.

    February 15, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. luan isuffi

    What do those arrogant ,ignorant and incompetent perverts from GOP want.Mayby Obama should consult with this faf junkie Rush on policies.They showed us in last 8 years what they do.
    Get rid of all of them.

    February 15, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. The Thinker

    Republicans == Irrelevant. It's time for your nap, Mr. McCain. Take your failed ideology home and watch as pragmatism saves us from the destruction you and your kind have wrought.

    February 15, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. MG

    Where do the Reps get off whining about Obama not being bipartisan? They had no issue with single party rule and the utter lack of bipartisanship in everything they did when they controlled the White House and Congress, why must we? I don't want bipartisanship, I don't care what the Republicans think, want, or vote for. They squandered our surplus and international goodwill after 9/11; racked up a huge deficit; allowed deregulation and corporate greed to run amok; encouraged the housing bubble with unsustainable interest rate reductions; stood in the way of innovation in the fields of energy; medicine, and scientific research; flouted the law with their bogus claims of "executive privilege" and politicalization of the Justice Dept.; invaded Iraq under false pretense; all while eroding civil liberties and consolidating power in the Executive Branch to further advance their selfish, racist, unAmerican agenda. Sorry guys but you can sit this one out as far as I'm concerned, really you've done enough already.

    February 15, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Zion

    Anyone who disagrees with the stimulus, please do not accept any of the funds for your states. The End.

    February 15, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. DG

    Obama and his people started hammering out this stimulus package eighteen months ago so it would be ready to go when he won. The Republicans are so jealous because Obama is staying two steps ahead of them. Well, they might as well get use to that. They can just pout until they get glad. Who cares what they think? Americans surely don't. It was these folks along with Bush who ran our country into the ground. Well, we got rid of alot of them and we need to get rid of the rest of them. In the meantime Obama is leading us in the right direction. So folks, put some gratitude in your attitude, and be thankful we finally got a true leader!!

    February 15, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  19. john

    6 months ago McCain said the economy was strong. why is it we did not hear from any Republicans in the last 4 years talking about the economy and the waste by George Bush. four years from now, there is a good chance the economy will be better and Obama can take the credit and make sure people remember the Rebulicans did nothing in the time of need. it should help him get reelected.republicans created the problem, wouldn't help solve it. mccain should worry about his election in 2010, seems to me Obama was close in arizona during the Presidential election..

    February 15, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. Bridg

    He's just a bitter, tired old sore loser. I have news for you McLimpus, most American agree with the President– THAT'S WHY WE DIDN'T VOTE FOR YOU, LOSER. WAKE UP ARIZONA AND VOTE THIS GOON OUT OF OFFICE.

    February 15, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. llim


    If you disagree if the bill, you can refuse the handout. That will be the savings for other people who need it more.

    February 15, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. Max

    "It's real simple folks – We have the "Yes, we can" on one side and "No, we can't" on the other. Greatness is built on "Yes, we can." Failure flounders about mumbling "No, we can't." and "I hope he fails." Misery loves company."

    Simple-minded, perhaps. Simple, no. The truth of the matter is that this spending bill does little more than burn money that doesn't exist. The government doesn't create permanent jobs. Don't expect people to be eager for Obama to spend the country into oblivion. It's not a "No you can't" thing as much as it is a "You really shouldn't" thing.

    February 15, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. Ann

    John, at least Obama is trying something! If it works, great. If not, we shouldn't be any worse than Republicans not doing anything except talking against Democrats.

    February 15, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. Ben

    It was very obvious the vast majority of republicians in congress had absolutely no intention of participating in trying to put together a economic stimulus bill because if the democrats and President Obama succeed in getting the economy back on track in the next two years the republicians know they will be totally out of power for the next eight years or longer. Their party lost the presidency, as well as seats in the house and senate in the past two elections. Their appeal with the voters has decreased because the voters in America have changed from the older more conservative to the younger more progressive. No longer does preaching hate, fear or being war mongers produce votes for their "Hate Party". American voters have seen through the smoke and mirrors and are much better educated. They can no longer be ignored. We younger and better educated votes will never be taken advantage of again. The Republicians are in deep trouble and may never recover unless they change many of their hard line positions.

    February 15, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Jo

    I would like to know what McShame would have done for the economy. He is the first one to critize but doesn't offer one new idea how to help. How I hope the people in AZ remember his do nothing attitude during this crisis and vote him out of office so fast it will make his spin. If I wanted sheep in Washington to represent me I would send the four legged kind. It sure would be cheaper than the sheep of the GOP that there is now.

    February 15, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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