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. Emma, San Jose

    "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink" is a trite saying that still holds truth. After an election loss, it looks like the GOP are hanging on tightly to failed governance. Will they ever get it?

    February 15, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. rob

    Are those Red or White grapes. John?

    February 15, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. Morgan

    Republicans need to face the fact that the CBO came out with a report in 2005 that said more than half the reason for the surplus to deficit turnaround under Bush were the Bush tax cuts and war spending. Now they want more tax cut and McCain wants to stay on the "war" path in this poor economic situation when that got us here. I'm sick of Republicans acting like they have the ideas to move us forward. Their ideas simply have not moved us forward. It's been well documented that this spending is only part of the solution. It's crazy to think it's THE only hope.

    Republicans are trying to figure out their identity which I understand, but their argument feels false looking at their recent actions with Bush in office. They had no problem with spending and creating deficit for Republican ideas. If they had a backbone with Bush I would have a lot more respect for the argument now.

    February 15, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Sue

    Well we know the new republican mantra "generational theft."

    At least he didn't call the bill socialist...let Rush handle that, I guess.

    From my perspective, McCain comes across as a really sore loser...he wasn't worried about any of these things when it came time for war funding, unfunded mandates for schools, unfunded tax cuts...you know, all the things that contributed to the poor balance sheet and the current crisis.
    Blame bankers if you like, but Bush's borrowing for war led us directly to this–his oil and Blackwater cronies are making money hand over fist, with still no accountability, while the rest of us are hiding cash under the mattress. McCAin is no better.

    At least Obama is trying!

    February 15, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. j.r.shanks

    At first I had some doubt about the stimulis package, but now I know it is on the right track, because McCain, and Rush, are convinced it will succeed, and are doing what they do best ,to help it fail.

    February 15, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. dave

    I like the fact the Pres Obama is trying to jumpstart the economy, however...............I would rather see the stimulus package divided evenly amongst all taxpayers. Millions of us have a better chance of making this work than a handfull of agencies that get the money.

    I see no gain for my family out of this other than a $400 rebate on my taxes !!!!!!!! Funny, how that money goes thru the IRS before it goes to anyone, so if I owe from last year, the IRS claims their share and sends me the balance, IF any. Last year the stimulus money went to my IRS bill and lowered my balance. Did me no good.

    If we would each get $40,000, or whatever it divides out amongst taxpayers, we would be spending the money to pay off credit cards, car payments, house payments, buying at the store, investing it, etc and then everyone wins. THAT would stimulate the economy !

    If I don't have anything to do with schools, construction, car building, unemployment, or any of the other entities the stimulus package is going for, it will not benefit me at all. .

    February 15, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. Karl Rove

    The Republicans enthusiastically spent $1 TRILLION in Iraq and $2 TRILLION on tax cuts for the wealthy, all while de-regulating Wall Street and costing average Americans TRILLIONS more in lost 401K investments.

    If we had this money, we would not need the Stimulus Bill. So approving $800 BILLION to solve the MULTI-TRILLION Republican Depression is like trying to cure VD with aspirin – but yet the Republicans are against it and want MORE TAX CUTS for their rich friends. SHAME ON THEM!!!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. D.Holiday OH

    Hey McSame,

    Your whole presidential bid was nightmare. Where do you come off saying the President's off to a bad start?

    February 15, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Emma, San Jose

    The socialistic trends we will experience become necessary because of the eight years of Republican ineptitude under the leadership of an abuser of power named Bush.

    February 15, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Keep going Mr. President.

    February 15, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. Mike in Philly

    I think that part of the problem is that we had almost a trillion dollar deficit in Bush's last year (same as the spending by the Democrats this year), yet the level of the Republicans complaining and drawing the line in the sand against large gov't spending was almost non-existent, compared to this year's complaints. This really comes across as hypocrisy. I cana sorta understand their new mantra of "we were wrong to do it back then, but we've re-learned, and now won't let the other guys do what we did" ... That has a tendency to negate a lot of their new message, especially to the other side ...

    February 15, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. Diana NJ

    Dano, it is because they have not held on to their republican principles for years.. they have not shown they have any principles.

    I just heard the GOP Rep of Ill. say that the people at a company who is laying off employees that 100 of them did not want him to vote for the Stimulus package... there is no way I can believe that..... and his mail box is filled with request that he vote against it.. it is called the RNC filling you box up..

    February 15, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Lisa

    Of course the Republicans don't want the economy to improve – one big benefit to them is more unemployed to join the military and fight their wars. Didn't you all see the article how the military has met or exceeded it's enlistment goals since unemployment began to rise?

    Perfect!! Cheap labor for them. Call it cynical if you want – I don't care.

    February 15, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. RyanD.

    Obama Approval 60-70%+
    Democrats: 48%+
    GOP: 30-32%

    I think that says all we need to know.

    February 15, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Jim Bridges

    If Jesus Christ had won this election as a Democrate, the Republicans would oppose everything he tried.
    During the negotiations I can't recall any positive input from the Right.
    Until they can contribute to the effort to clean up the mess they left, maybe they should sit in the corner and be quiet.

    February 15, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. grandad

    To the idiot who says "Funny all the comments are in favor of Obama.. whine whine whine" BUT OF COURSE MORON.. Obama has over 70% approval, should CNN just silence the majority to make it appear that 50% of the country are right wing extremists? You should expect to see the comments reflect the approval you brainwashed dummy

    February 15, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. C W

    Patrick, how are the things on your list "pork"? They all contribute directly to the betterment of our country, and yes, funding these programs creates and maintains jobs.

    I think you should go live in the kind of dog-eat-dog country you seem to advocate and then get back to us.

    February 15, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. Oregon

    Remember our dads and granddads building the dams and bridges of this Country? It's what helped pull the Country out of the depression – that and WWII. Why can't we do that for the future generations – without the war. We all know our infastructure is crumbing – our schools are indaequate – our healthcare worrysome. Let America and Americans lead the way into the 21st Century!

    February 15, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. Yinka Lawal

    I want the public to know that the economy is hurting our great nation
    and this is mostly cause by the ignorant of the republican, they will rather support a bill that will spend tax money in Iraq instead of at home, they forget that sometime when your house is on fire you don't care about the cost of the water. someone please tell republican to shout up, this are the people that vote for spending 10 billion in a mouth in Iraq. And I thought old man with old brain dont know anything about economy.

    February 15, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. Karl Rove

    I've got an idea – have all the rich folk pay back the $2 TRILLION in tax cuts the Repubs gave them under Bush and we have no need for what they call the "excessive" Stimulus Bill.

    We are in this mess because the same rich folk who got all the tax cuts did NOT re-invest in America. Rather, they shipped jobs overseas, hoarded their cash and took every opportunity to screw the average American to make yet another buck!

    For the last time – trickle-down economics and laissez faire capitalism do NOT work!!

    February 15, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Nate

    Why do Republicans hate America and Americans so much?

    February 15, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. yuri

    It is axiomatic that McCain't a well informed economist. Just because he has to air an opinion, he is mouthing out his concept on the bill without much thought going into the process. Wait! There are more spicy speculations to come from the Grahams, McCains, Boeners, Kantors. Pences, and McConnells.

    February 15, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. mberwa2000

    Sen. McCain lost and he still didnt got over it... our economy is really bad and needs to be fixed immediately.... and I think the republicans they either don't get it or they dont care about what is going on in this country....

    February 15, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. laura

    OK let me see if I understand.........if Obama doesn't approach bipartisanship the republican's way he is off track.......I am just not sure the Republicans would know bipartisanship behavior if they saw
    it.......for Republicans ideology seems to trump real solutions to problems.

    February 15, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. Vail Beach

    >>It's real simple folks – We have the "Yes, we can" on one side and "No, we can't" on the other.<<

    That's not simple. That's simplistic.

    What if I were to say, "Yes I can..." steal your car? If you said "no you can't," does that make you some kind of negative partisan jerk? Maybe I'm not entitled to your car. Maybe I should get a job and pay for a car myself.

    What Obama proved he "can" do is borrow a lot of money from our children and grandchildren to buy off political support he and the Dems in Congress want today. Whoop-di-doo. Any hack politician can do that - promise something for nothing. Obama will be long out of office when the bill comes due for his political greed.

    That's not "new politics." It's not "change." It will destroy "hope" for future generations. It's not even smart. The bill will fail in its primary stated objective of spurring an economic recovery, and at that point, ever ounce of pork in it will be wrapped around his neck and the Democratic party's. So, the polls will show him up today, but this is a dead weight for 2012.

    February 15, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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