July 3rd, 2009
02:53 PM ET
14 years ago

State of the Union: Powell 'concerned' about Obama's agenda

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a wide-ranging interview set to air Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, one of President Barack Obama's most prominent Republican supporters says he is 'concerned' about the new president's ambitious agenda and the high price tags accompanying many of Obama's initiatives.

"I'm a little concerned," former Secretary of State Colin Powell says. "I'm concerned at the number of programs that are being presented, the bills associated with these programs and the additional government that will be needed to execute them."

Powell also seems to sound a note of warning to the young president.

"I think one of the cautions that has to be given to the president - and I've talked to some of his people about this - is that you can't have so many things on the table that you can't absorb it all. And we can't pay for it all."

Even as he raises concerns about the new Democratic president's agenda, Powell also seems to back away from some of his own conservative views.

"I don't like slogans anymore like 'limited government.' That's not the right answer. The right answer is, give me a government that works."

"The people want their problems solved," Powell also says in the interview. "And very often, it's government that has to do that. So let's have good government, effective government, whether you call it limited or not."

Despite his concerns, Powell also tells CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that he has a "very good" relationship with president.

"I have met with him not too long ago. I don't insert myself. But we stay in touch," the former Bush aide says of Obama.

Filed under: Colin Powell • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Respect

    E.C.Coleman – what has McCain done for Americans' beside being captured and tortured?

    July 3, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. Lisa

    Well, well, well. Looks light another Obama supporter finally realizes that he is going to destroy the country with his liberal agenda.

    The gay folks are finding out he is no friend of theirs too.

    I wonder how its working out for all those people who thought Obama was going to get them jobs, make the foreclosure go away and keep their fridge full.

    Promises promises.

    July 3, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. P Alfonso

    I am surprised that Powell is surprised with the course of the Obama administration. A person with his experience should have been able to see this before he supported him.
    So " I am concerned" is a little too late; isn't it?

    July 3, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. David

    In Response to: kishen c.rao July 3rd, 2009 9:18 am ET

    what is he concerned about??? Fixing health care? Energy Indipendence? Economy? or Immigration? Is he going to be another roadblock on these issues along with bunch of Lobbyists like AMA, Hospitals, and Insurance groups and doctors….???????

    Yea, let's bash those evil doctors who help us when we are sick. I hate those guys, they are terrible evil people.....
    haha, you my friend have fallen for Obama's class envy war and it makes you look pathetic.

    July 3, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. cappicola

    Mr. Powell's star status has shrunk dramatically in recent years and with this latest statement so has his effectiveness in the political arena. He made a choice – one he publicly heralded – that he, like numerous other Americans, now apparently regret.

    Perhaps the good general should leave the Washington scene altogether and seek out a position on the board of a very large corporation where his image as a proven leader of men will do him and others around him a far greater good in the long term.

    I like the man as a person and I am grateful to him for his illustrious service to our Country but suffice to say that he did make the choice all by himself.

    July 3, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. Jim

    We can't afford to pay for the President's initiaives? I never heard one Republican make that argument about the war in Iraq. That one thing alone has cost us more than everything the President has put forward and at least he is trying to pay for what he does.

    July 3, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Chris in NC

    I agree that the president has a very full plate. Problem is, most of these things are interconnected and can't necessarily be dealt with individually. To all the naysayers and critics: Do you have a better ideas? Didn't think so...

    July 3, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. Joe

    It was pretty obvious that President Obama was going to increase spending when he ran. He is wasting our money, and stifling a market that is trying hard to improve. The market works in cycles, President Bush should not get credit for the good times before the crash, nor should he be blamed for the collapse. He begged Barney Frank's committee to do something about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but Frank was receiving so much money from those two firms that he refused. The crash did not start until after Democrats took control of Congress, and, despite President Obama's best efforts, it will improve in spite of him.

    July 3, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Michigan

    You know, people, every generation leaves debt for their children...think about it! When Social Security was instituted, who do you think paid for their parents' retirements? Not the little bit put into the system by the people pulling it out. We have a responsibility in this great land to take care of each other. Unfortunately, Republicans think that happens by them accumulating vast amounts of money through tax cuts and huge executive compensation. Then what? Aren't you supposed to give back? Create jobs? It didn't work with Bush, did it? That is why the government is now stepping in to create jobs that will in turn allow people to buy homes they can afford and buy items they need. Obama walked into the very worst situation ever faced by a new President, and I think they had to multitask. What would have happened in Iraq had Obama simply focused on jobs here? What would have happened to the auto industry if Obama had simply focused on Iraq? Please, just because you can't see the forest for the trees does not mean that Obama has an evil agenda for this country. That doesn't make any sense. He loves America (ALL of America, unlike Republican 'leaders') and he wants us to succeed. You eagerly gave Bush 8 years to ruin the economy, get thousands of people killed, break the law repeatedly, take away rights, and NOW you're worried? Because he's black and intelligent?

    July 3, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. Respect

    Old Soldier – all the institutions you mentioned were bankrupt under Bush and the republicans, so no matter what you called it they were lost, done, finished, depression, recession, failures under republican's. I don't agree with any of the bailouts started by the republicans and continued by the democratic administration, I however understand. First you stop the bleeding then you fix the problem. If republicans knew the answer to stopping the mess they got us into then why didn't they fix it? Just like McCain, during the campaign, knew exactly where and how to get Osama, well McCain we are still waiting?!?!?!?!? If he knows and he is not telling then he is a terrorist and has committed treason. I know what he is – a LIAR!

    July 3, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. sally

    and I thought powell knew what he was doing. he did not see this coming????????????????????????????????? everything about obama is that he believes the hype and there is nothing too ambitious too ask of the people. come on powell. disappointing.

    July 3, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. ralph tyler

    Colin Powell has no credibility after his performance at the United Nations prior to the Iraq War.

    He seems like an extraordinarily expedient sort to me.

    July 3, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Respect

    Jeff – Powell backed the stronger man. What exactly is McCain strong on?

    Economy – he said it was strong while every economist said it was tanking.

    Defense – I think he spent his entire military career captured and being tortured. I don't want to learn that from him, do you?

    I can't think of anything, can you?

    Education – it is well documented that he was a dunce.


    July 3, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. Active Senior

    The republicans voted as a block for 8 years and screwed up the economy and our reputation. Now they begin each day by boasting
    to the public of how they have the RIGHT answer to solving the problems that they now blame President Obama for causing,
    while they fabricate lies to create fear. They have been the party of
    greed and BUSH/CHENEY promoted their cadre of cronies to suck the money from every source they could. Now CHENEY keep his
    act up in fear of the Justice Department prosecuting him.

    Go Away Republicans. Let Obama try to save US.

    July 3, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. bart

    Now Powell is concerned??? What a hypocrite. You're the traitor that voted for this Marxist, Powell......you wanted him you got him.

    July 3, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. Operation Crush Rush

    Great job President Obama.We will get the money from the Anti Americans that hide it in offshore and swiss accts. like Limbaugh and his rich ilk.The swiss have already said they will open the books.They can run but they cant hide for long.hahahaha

    July 3, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. harry1

    OBAMA was on board at the beginning of these problems and for him to say there was no oversight or accountability of previous admin is rediculous. Ask Pelosi, Rangel, Frank, what the hell were they doing then and are still doing now. Don't get me wrongm, the republicans were to blame also, but these civil servants are so out of touch with Americans.
    We are in trouble, God save us

    July 3, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. T

    I am too Mr. Powell, as a Democrat

    July 3, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Hmmm

    Everybody who's so concerned about Obama's agenda should consider what we would have under McCain as a president.

    We'd probably already be at war with Iran, and of course still be in Iraq. The Vice-President, Sarah Palin, would be working hard to take away a woman's right to control her own body. McCain had NO plan to halt the recession, so likely we'd be free-falling toward a fullscale Depression, with no one having any idea how to stop it. Our status in the world would have still been in the basement, if not lower, and Americans abroad would still have to lie about their country of origin ("No, really, we're Canadians") to avoid scorn from those who saw us as warmongering jerks.

    Now? Sure, things are still tough, but there's light at the end of the tunnel – housing is up, and there was an article in my local paper about how manufacturing is on the rise. Respect for America has gone up considerably abroad, and we have a First Family to be proud of, not ashamed of.

    Yes, Obama's plans strike some as scary and radical. But so did Lincoln's, and his ideas worked. Why don't we give the president a chance to fix some of the problems he inherited before we declare him a failure? And anyone who thinks McCain would have done better, please prove it. I'd like to hear why you think so.

    July 3, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. D

    I am amazed by some of these GOP comments here bashing Powell. It seems no matter who speaks they will take issue with it. One of the first rules of business, is that there will be 20-30% of your customer's that consume to much of your time, they demand special treatment, and no matter what you do nor the amount of effort you put into appeasing them will ever satisfy them. So eventually you refuse service with them so that you can focus on your base and grow your enterprise.

    It's time to stop pandering to the GOP. Ignore them and grow our country.

    July 3, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Eric

    This is the conservative side of Powell coming through. I just don't think people are used to so much from a president in such a short amount of time.

    Obama's message during the campaign was all about change, he hit the ground running and hasn't slowed since. Some of his agenda will slip and some will stick but he's laying it all out there and I give him credit for that.

    July 3, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Krishnan Chittur

    Welcome Mr. Powell. I am glad you seem to have woken up.

    July 3, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  23. The black spider

    Now the Republicans has found a voice with Colin Powell whom by the way they've called with every name in the book for supporting Obama. He said he has concern about " all his agenda rying to everything at once" in contrary he did not say that Obama should not do anything to fix the crisis Bush left him.
    Why didn't say something when 700000 were losing jobs on the monthly basis? Now the number has decreased considerablely despite the litthe increase this month due to GM bankruptcy so are out there running your mouth.
    OBAMA is trying to put america together again with solid foundations for growth. It will cost money but I urge him just to spend but control the spending and raise taxes if that is the only choice left.

    July 3, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. Sarah

    Powell isn't concerned about Obama spreading HIMSELF thin, but rather OUR MONEY! We Americans cannot afford to pay for all the junk Obama wants to do, including all that global warming nonsense. Al Gore is a fool, and so is everyone who listens to him.

    July 3, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. Marc

    Well Mr. Powell, while I disagree with most of your points or the conclusions you came to, it's really good to see a Republcan (and yes, he is one, there can be some moderation in the Republican Party and he IS the proof) with substantiated points of view.

    July 3, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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