ABC News’ Tahman Bradley reports:
Sen. John McCain said Sunday he would not support President Obama’s $825 billion economic stimulus plan in its current form because the House Democrats’ bill contains too much unnecessary spending and not enough tax cuts.
"I think there has to be major rewrites if we want to stimulate the economy," the Arizona Republican said on "Fox News Sunday." "I’m opposed to most of the provisions in the bill. As it stands now, I would not support it. "
Although nearly one-third of the $850 billion stimulus legislation comes in the form of tax cuts (the other two-thirds is spending), McCain said even more tax assistance should be included. Echoing themes from his failed White House bid, McCain called for the extension of the Bush administration tax cuts. "We need to make tax cuts permanents. We need to make a commitment that there’ll be no new taxes. We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes."
Expressing concern about some of the spending projects in the bill, McCain said there needs to be some kind of way to assess whether the spending will truly stimulate the economy in the short term.
"$6 million for broadband Internet access. That will take years. There should be an endpoint to all of this spending as well, say, two years," he said.
Among the other areas of spending that Republicans have expressed concern over: millions for coupons to help people switch old televisions to digital, $200 million for fresh sod on the National Mall, and $360 million to fight sexually transmitted disease, including money for contraceptives.
McCain echoed the cry of House Republicans that Democrats are not inviting Republicans into the process. "I want us all to sit down and negotiate. Republicans have not been brought in, to the degree that we should be in, to these negotiations and discussions. So far, as far as I can tell, no Republican proposal has been incorporated. Maybe there has been, I just may have missed it. But, clearly we need to have serious negotiations."
McCain would not say whether he is prepared to hold up the legislation in the Senate by filibustering the bill.
The bill’s sponsors say the stimulus plan would kick-start the economy and meet President Obama’s hope of creating more than 3 million jobs, but McCain said he fears the bill might fall short of its goals because of the gratuitous spending.
"We’re losing sight of what the stimulus is all about, and that is job creation. If it doesn’t create jobs, then it’s just another spending project."
The White House was out selling the bill on Sunday. National Economic Council director Larry Summers called the spending in the $850 billion bill "balanced" and necessary for an economic recovery.
Mr. Summers, speaking on NBC’s "Meet the Press", said the Bush tax cuts needed to be repealed because eventually the government will need to address U.S. debt. "We simply can’t afford it. The president inherited a trillion dollar deficit, and a deficit with a baseline that is terrible as far as the eye can see. We’ve got to spend money now while we have a recession — while we’ve got this serious economic crisis, but as soon as the economy recovers, we’re going to have to find ways of getting the government finances under some kind of control."