This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," January 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Live from our nation's capital again — Senate Democrats in a tizzy over this whole Blagojevich mess and how to deal with the growing Senate mess — all this as the president-elect tries to pass a huge stimulus plan he says is needed to clean up this economic mess, which, for Wall Street, was a mess.
Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto, coming to you live from Washington again, this time with a treat for you, an exclusive reaction to what has been going on in the world, and particularly in that dome behind me.
I'm talking to the Republican presidential nominee, John McCain of Arizona.
• Video: Watch Neil Cavuto's interview
Senator, very good to have you. Thanks for coming.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Thanks for having me on, Neil. Thank you for not mentioning the loser.
CAVUTO: I was wondering, too, I mean, all this pomp and pageantry getting ready for the big event...
MCCAIN: Yes. Yes.
CAVUTO: ... is it tough?
MCCAIN: No, it really isn't. It is what the incoming and elected president deserves. And it has sparked a degree of enthusiasm that we have seldom seen.
I understand there are very — record numbers of people that are coming to town. And, so, I — I think most Americans and you and me are hoping for the best in these very difficult times. I — I think you would have to go a long way back in history, maybe to the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, to look — I just thought of this — to look at a president taking office in more challenging times, maybe Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the — during the Depression.
MCCAIN: So, you would have to — there's not many times in history — let me put it that way — that a president has come to office with as many challenges as the president-elect does. And that is incumbent then upon all of us to try and do what we can to work with him.
CAVUTO: All right. You mentioned Franklin Roosevelt. Many argue that the president-elect is trying to outdo FDR, in terms of stimulating and spending our way out of this. The earliest estimates are, Senator, $800 billion, at a minimum. Maybe we will get up to a trillion.
MCCAIN: Before it gets to Congress.
CAVUTO: Exactly. Are you worried that this is a process run amuck?
MCCAIN: Yes. But I also think there are some things we might do, such as — as the president-elect has already committed to — no earmarks, but maybe, as importantly, perhaps, Neil — and I would strongly recommend this — that we could have a break point here that, say, after two quarters of positive economic growth, that a kind of a Gramm-Rudman would kick in, a requirement for balanced budgets, to put us back on the path and eliminate wasteful and unnecessary spending.
I know that — you know that is a phrase around here. But if you had a — an amendment in this package, if you had a provision in this package, once the economy has recovered, then we are required to reduce spending and get on the road to a balanced budget within a certainly reasonable length of time, I think that might restore a little bit of confidence. There is a concern.
CAVUTO: Do you think, behind me, those guys will ever do that?
MCCAIN: I think that they will do things that they have never done before, in light of the pressure they are feeling from their constituents right now.
You say it every day, and I will say it again. These are the most challenging times in our lifetimes — in our lifetime. And I'm not saying it's at parallel with the Great Depression. We have not reached nearly those numbers yet — unemployment of 25 percent, et cetera. But they are certainly far worse than any recession that you and I have ever seen.
CAVUTO: But do they warrant this type of money? Now, we have already spent trillions, Senator...
CAVUTO: ... between the financial rescues and what we are doing for the auto guys.
MCCAIN: Which have been very disappointing, yes.
CAVUTO: Well, but my point is, are things so drastic that we can't even wait to see the results of that before we pile on?
MCCAIN: I think you can make a strong argument, talking to most economists, including Marty Feldstein, that unusual action is required in these most unusual times. The question is, will we do it right?
I'm very disappointed in the first $350 billion of TARP. There's not been accountability, transparency and, apparently, we have shifted priorities from time to time. And I never voted for a bill that would bail out the auto industry.
CAVUTO: So, you were not for that?
MCCAIN: I was certainly not — I do not see any provision in that bailout that calls for...
MCCAIN: ... bailout.
CAVUTO: Well, why did you vote for that, by the way, when you knew that there was still no oversight in place?
MCCAIN: Well, we were told there would be oversight and transparency, et cetera. We should learn that lesson. We should have that in place before we give the money from now on.
But the second point is, we watched, you watched, America watched a 700-point drop in one day of the Dow Jones average, a $1.2 trillion disappearance of Americans' savings, retirement, et cetera.