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. Ron

    typical McCain, crying because he can't get his way anymore. the GOP trounced the US economy and with his backing the Bush administration committed $7.8 Trillion of taxpayer money on bailouts schemes in 2008 alone. give it up John, a decade of useless posturing only makes you look sad.

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  2. Ron

    Please. McCain is a bitter old man. He lost, and that's it. This is a spending bill, yes. We tried the Republican way for 8 years and it did not work. Even if half of this works, it's better than what we have now. If Obama invites Republicans to way in on the bill and add changes, that does not mean to submit your own bill, which is what they did. What were the Dems suppose to do, scrap their bill and accept the Republicans bill? I never once saw Bush even try to be bi-partisan. At least Obama tried. It's time to move on from the bitter and battled Republicans. They have no clue.

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. Lee Sterne

    President Obama extended his hands to the Republicans, and they bit it.
    They are not interested in participation, only in obstruction.
    I would describe them as blind, deaf and stupid.

    February 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Greg

    As a long term resident of Arizona, I wouldn't expect anything less from this sad poor tired man. Time for retirement John., quit the charade.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. J. Harvey

    He's not serious is he – if anyone is bipartisian its been the republicans – they were against the bill before they saw the bill – and talk about generational theft – how about the last eight years – who left a huge deficit – who spent billions on a war based on lies!!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Robert

    I wouldn't expect anything else from a sore loser.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Folabi

    There goes John McCain, recycling the same old blather that didn't wash with the American people throughout his run for presidency. Will someone tell these GOP robots that there's a reason why Mr. President's ratings remain high in spite of his 'evil' stimulus bill?

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Ashish

    For this specific reason you failed and republican party failed. For you it is either your way or no way. This is exactly why American people rejected you. He came to talk to you guy and all you kept saying "only tax cut, nothing else". Learn from you past mistakes and failed policies. Then only you will win American people.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. Joe American

    Who cares what Mcsame has to say. Who cares what the republicans have to say. They brought us here and are now want America to continue to fail. Republicans are pure obstructionist. They are not fighting for the people. They want more of the same failed policies that brought us here. Why does the media think we care about what the republicans say? America voted! We made a choice And Obama is working for the people of America and not for his self or greedy coprorations. The Republicans are Obstructing this, for ther own greed and the greed of the large corporations. The media should wake up before they are no longer needed due to there political right wing agenda. The people are mad as hell and sick in tired of the corruption that is ruining our country. We whange change and not more of the same!

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. Joyce E Neal - Antioch, TN

    The Republicans keep saying that this bill has a lot of stuff that won't create/sustain jobs, but when asked for specific "stuff", you get a merry-go-round reply. Give some specifics or keep your personal thoughts to yourself.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. Cathy, Peoria AZ

    The very last person who should be commenting is John McCain! He, who "suspended" his campaign to go back to Washington to deal with this issue and HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO DO! This man thought the economy was in good shape!
    The Republican members of the house and senate don't seem to get the idea that tax cuts won't work! The last 8 years prove that. These men and women need to begin to realize we must do something to stimulate the economy and TAX CUTS ALONE DO NOT DO THAT!
    If he is so willing to be bi-partianship, then lets see him act on his words.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. al

    The bad beginning was for the GOP but they don't know it yet. The GOP refused to cooperate, trying to make political points instead of caring about our nation. Senator Collins said on network news, and Arlen Spector said as well, that many Republican Senators wanted to vote for the bill but they couldn't, meaning they were afraid. What they were afraid of was the right-wing of their party running a primary candidate against them in the next election. So instead of doing what they believed was right, these Republicans are trying to insist that the Democrats would not work with them. The Republicans should all lose re-election for not having a backbone and telling lies.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Gina Northover-Moore

    Senator McCain you need to step up and stop bickering because you lost. What your republican Bush administration left the children of this country a huge financial deficit, and you wanted to keep the war in Iraq going for 100 years? Where is your memory? Who do you think you are talking negative about our President? At least our Senate and Congress worked with our President to get this bill moving, you my friend would have pulled the engine and transmission right out from underneath the progress. Gosh, after all these years, I find you now a pathetic whiner, and have lost any respect my family once had for you. Why don't you focus on your own state and just get to work. Tired of hearing you pathetic whining.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Garthe Kindler

    Would someone please ask Sen McCain to explain how his recent vote for a proposal reducing the tax rate for upper income people to 25% and thereby decreasing federal revenue by an estimated 2.5 trillion in coming years is not fiscally irresponsible and does not constitute "generational theft"?

    And ask him to define hypocrisy.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Andre

    We have had enough of the JOhn McCain's of the world. It's time for him and them to either retire, relocate or even better, die of natural causes

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. Ken

    That's what happens when you lose elections. You no longer get to drive national policy. Welcome to the wilderness.

    Frankly, Mr. McCain already sold his alleged values in his deal with the devil to get the nomination so I can't imagine that anybody, Republican or Democrat, would consider him as the guy to turn to anymore in seeking bipartisianship or much of anything, anyway. In other words, not only has he been shunted to the wilderness with the rest of the Republican party, but he is also irrelevent.

    I hope it was all worth it.

    February 15, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. mark fro dover

    John- Time for you to retire. You are so out of touch with the American people! Just last summer you were saying our economy was sound. You promised to work with the new president, however , you are just the same old obstructionist. go home to Arizona. Now is the time.

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. Jason M, SF, Ca.

    How is someone supposed to act in a bipartisan way, when the minority party clings to the same failed policies that got us here in the first place? Tax cuts don't work when 7-8% of Americans don't have taxes to cut.

    McCain also was the guy who said the fundamentals of the economy were strong. Now we are supposed to believe any of his statements on the economy?

    FDR took the right path to fixing the worst economy in our country's history and it involved government spending and projects to put people back to work. McCain wasn't screaming about bipartisanship when the Grumpy Old Party controlled both houses and the White House, so he has zero credibility on this issue.

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. give me a break

    we WENT along party lines for the last 7 years...look where it got us...sit down and shut up, Mr McCain..

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  20. tom

    I wonder what the real truth is. Maybe the republicans did not want to negotiate on the stimulus. Maybe the democrats gave the republicans a dose of their own medicine. Sad part of all of this is I think most of the stimulus bill is a piece of crap. $13 a day does not go that far to stimulating anything. However, suspending federal payroll taxes of 3 or 6 months would have a bigger stimulating effect.

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. Scott

    Interesting – what compromises did the Repulicans make? Better yet -did the Republcians bring forth an alternative proposal? Answers: None and No!

    Here we have a losing candidate trying to gain relevace in American politics. it's time for the media to stop playing to McCain and speak with Republican representatives with alternative ideas. He was, is and will continue to be irrelevant in the American political scene.

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. Simpson

    THIS from the man who picked Palin as his vice President. I never saw him stand up to Bush when our country was being bankrupted over the last eight years .... REPUBLICANS = HYPOCRITES! Lets all act like everything just started this year and forget about the last eight years or better yet go back to blaming Clinton. AGAIN, I truly believe that America will not fall for that old DRAMA!!!!

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. mike

    John McCain has lost whatever credibility he had...
    If he is so concerned about "generational theft" why did he support the Bush tax cuts? Doesn't he realize that "generational theft" has been going on for several years now? As an ardent supporter of the war, if he was so concerned about a balanced budget etc etc - why didn't he speak out about financing a war by borrowing from China?

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  24. Lee Sterne

    Republicans are not interested in participation, only in obstruction.
    They are blind, deaf and stupid

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. RSB

    McCain's a joke. He likes to criticize but offers no positive or constructive ideas. Just like in the campaign he waits until Obama does something and criticizes it but never has an original idea of his own.

    February 15, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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