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. Celeste

    Why is anyone asking his opinion anyway?

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Josh

    Just another example of how far out of touch the Republican Party is with America and this economic crisis it fueled for eight years.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Gloria

    So did McCain have a plan or is he just following party lines?????????

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. JC

    Hey McCain, jealous much?

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Bill in Albuquerque

    Blows my mind the country is spiriling out of control (thanks to Bushco) and all the GOP does is block and complain.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Rob

    Commander in "creep". This elitist needs to be taken down post haste.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. spidey

    Gee, John, your side did such a fantastic job at being bipartisan as well. He who's party is without sin cast the first stone.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  8. Had It

    Generational theft is in the eyes of the beholder --–

    I happen to think of all the very young children in this country and all the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers that have lost a meaningful member of their family to the war in Iraq is "generational theft" that no one can ever make up.

    McCain is an A..Hole

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. Marie

    Face it, McCain, you lost once more.
    One of the major challenges that the country is up to right now is the lack of an adult opposition party, in Washington, DC. With the GOP party in a delusional mode, and having no clue on the economy or on any serious issue, for that matter, it cannot possibly offer a healthy an much needed opposition to government as in true democracy. The only contribution to the GOP is sending an avalanche of talking heads to the cable networks to repeat the same dated and tired arguments that contribute nothing to the debate.
    McCain, you are way out of your league.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. David/Florida

    Why does BLEEPING McSenile keeps shooting his big mouth off.
    What did he and stupid WHB do in the last 8 years? Increase the deficit to almost a Trillion Dollars and spend 12 Billion a month of the Taxpayers Mony in a senseless War.Go Home McCain and dont bother running for Re-election in 2010, you will LOOSE big time because you have shot your Load during the Campaign. You're DONE!! Go Home to your million dollar botex doll. LOL

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. George

    Jobs and the American people were the intent of the stimulus. Maybe
    if the thieves in neckties would have given back the 18 billion, that the previous administration allowed them to take, less would have been needed for the poor.
    You republicans turned your back on America. Shame on you.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Riaz

    YOu cant negotiate a competing proposal here with GoP because they have same Bush policies and nothing new to negotiate.. Howcome this is a huge deficit and genrational theft now but not when he STOPPED the campaign to go and negotiate a $700 billion Stimulus deficit for Bush or when he did previous stimulus for Bush.. He has nothing new to offer even NOW.. Sorry...!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. Kevin, ABQ

    Yes, the Republicans are the ones who are now talking about bipartisan efforts, generational theft and fiscal responsibility.

    Do they even hear themselves anymore? Let's just let them continue their quiet march to total irrelevance.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. sachem

    Mr. McCain should remember that the major swing in the election happened when the economy was tanking. He needs to be reminded that his lack of a plan then, and now, is one of the reasons that he lost in such a landslide, and that he of all people (the guy that wanted to make John Thain his Secretary of the Treasury) should not be giving economic advise, or input of any kind.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    McCain is a joke. It's the usual Republican ploy go negative and do not cooperate with the enemy. McCain needs to just fade away into history along with the Republican party which after driving our country to the brink of the finanicial abyss thinks they have the better plan.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. James Cochran

    Obama is a big boy he can take care of him self. how he does things on captial hill I have no problem with as long as it works. he not being able to provide jobs for americans well I'm sure there IS going to be another thing for the senate to bicker about for the next few weeks. Now I wonder if Mc.Cain was president what would he do cause all this is talking about is Obama made an error.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. Buddy


    After picking Sarah Palin, I think your judgement is rather questionable. At least the current president cares about the American people more than the Wall Street people. It is a refreshing change. Your party could not possibly care less about what happens to the Americans who are not in the top one percent wealth category, and the last election shows that at least a majority of the voters have finally figured that out. As the Bible says, you can tell a tree by its fruit. Your party's fruit was tons on money for the rich, with all of the costs stuck to the rest of us. Well, that fruit is smelling pretty rotten and it was well past time to throw it out and cut that tree down! Now at the next election, we need to dig out that tree's roots so that it never grows again. God Bless American, not just the weathliest one percent.

    February 15, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. Rich

    And if McCain had been Pres, his stimulus package would have yielded zero jobs and loads of tax cuts for big biz! Meanwhile, Obama made a genuine attempt at Bi-partisanship, and after conceding several (non job producing) changes to appease the Republican Senators was still rejected by their own rank and file. This "bad beginning" owes everything to the same folks who brought us to the brink and took 8 unilateral years doing it. I have a few other choice words for them, but I'll keep it printable!

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. Toby

    It's funny that McCain never once complained about "generational theft" after we spent an estimated $3 trillion dollars in Iraq.

    If you look at their track record over the last decade, the republicans absolutely love "big spending". The only time they rally against spending is when someone wants to spend money in a way that may benefit Americans.

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Char'den

    Seems to me McJealous is off to a bad beginning. If I am not mistaken he's the sore looser back in the Senate after helping Bush lead us into war and economic crisis. LOL! Plus, how can the person that chose Palin as a possible second in command criticize anyone? He needs needs to spend his time choosing Medicare supplements and choosing a nursing home. Looks like alzheimers is setting in. LMAO!

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. Dave in Albuquerque

    The current Republican strategy seems to be (1) be as partisan as possible, in order to re-frame the party for 2010 and 2012; (2) cover up by blaming the Democrats (and in particular, President Obama) for the problems caused by Republican partisanship. By being the willing figurehead for this strategy, McCain has turned himself into the Incredible Shrinking Man. How sad for him, and for his party.

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    why doesn't this loser shut the hell up and go away..... put your country first, old man Mc Cane, not your pathetic party.

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. mike

    You have got to be kidding. The party that brought us the policies that created this mess now says their ideas should be accepted by the president that and party that the American's chose in November to lead us out of the wilderness.

    I used to like McCain, but if he can't see that his party clearly is only interested in being obstructionist, then he is part of the problem. I defy him or any other republican to show me the piece of legislation that the republicans introduced that the was adopted without a single democratic vote in the house.

    He is dilusional.

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. DN

    “We are laying a huge deficit on future generations of Americans.” Where was Senator McCain when President Bush took our nation from a surplus to the biggest deficit in American history? The National Debt Clock, which was covered with an American flag when President Clinton brought us into surplus, had to be taken down and replaced with another one that would go even higher in number.

    The GOP have said they're taking a page from the Taliban playbook and being insurgent against the Democrats. The nation is in crisis and they want to draw battle lines with their apparent new figure head being the destructive Rush Limbaugh, who wants Obama to fail. He literally said that!

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. fmjk

    If it was a bad beginning because "we" promised the American people we would sit down together, and "we" didn't, whose fault is that, Republican Senator? Obama sat down, but the Republicans made the political calculation that rather than be a part of designing the stimulus, they would just say no - their obvious plan is sit back and see if it works so that if it doesn't, they will not bear any responsibility, and they can capitalize on it in the midterm elections. A good political move, but absolutely not what "they" promised. And absolutely not the way the Democrats conducted themselves when Bush and Paulson came calling in the fall. It was Peloisi and Reid and Barney Frank who sat down with the former administration and tried to craft something that would work. It was McCain who pulled the stunt of "suspending his campaign" to go to DC and roll up his sleeves and work for a solution, but all he did when he got there was the usual: just say no. All this shows that the Republicans are great at running but not great at governing. Of course, we knew that already.

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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