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. minnie

    Powell, for what you did, the rest of the country has to suffer.
    Shame on you for helping get Obama elected. What a mess.

    July 3, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. ATR

    For all the Repubs. who critize Obama, can you name one single good thing Bush did for this Country in 8 years? I don't want to hear tax cuts because all that did was put us into more debt and trash the encomy. I would like to hear one, just one, good thing Bush did for America.

    July 3, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Larry S

    The continued stupidity of the liberal responders is beyond belief. So many of you liberals want to blame the problems on the former admistration and you liberals are all alike . . . you will not accept responsibility for your actions. There is no doubt the economy would be in a recovery if it had not been infested with the high cost stimulus bill. There is no one with any economic sense that believes additional goverment spending will help improve the economy. If we take the additional goverment hires out of the employment figures, then the unemployment would already be over 10%. The ignorance of BO and his followers is a very sad happening.

    July 3, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. Mark

    What makes Powell think I want the government or need the government to solve my problems? Just read the paper and see how they can’t solve their own problems much less work together to solve any problems. Just look at all the fighting taking place in New York between the parties. Both Rep and the Dems should be ashamed of themselves.


    July 3, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. y-y

    oh please. the most able public servant? look at your communities. oh wait, that's part of the problem. you can't expect one man (and a cabinet) to fix all your problems, but that's another part of the problem. the world has advanced such that our place in it is muddled, if it was ever clear. the position of the president of the united states... ever so changing/developing because the world is not immutable.

    he told you what you wanted to hear. like a desperate person coming out a bad relationship, he came up and said all the things he would do for you and you ate it up.

    sow your optimism within a 30-mile radius if you want to see the change you want to see.

    July 3, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. Vince

    Powell is always trying to be so politically correct when he should just says what he means. Obama is spending us into a hole we may never dig out of and he is creating larger government programs daily without so much as a sideways look from a compliant & corrupt democratic leadership.

    July 3, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. DR H

    Do any of you conservatives or Obama detracters have any alternate solutions or ideas on how to fix healthcare, the economy, or any of the other issues that trouble our nation?

    All I hear from the right is propaganda, buzz words like "socialist", appealing to fear or logic, and so on. In all of that I hear nothing about solutions.

    Obama doing to much? How about Obama not doing enough. The right needs to come to the party with solutions instead of words and distractions or sit down, shut the hell up, and watch from the sidelines...

    July 3, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  8. Jim

    EVERY president's actions should be ALL of our concerns. without exception. there's nothing new or different with our current president in that respect.


    the republican nay-sayers are all frothing at the mouth going "SEE! SEE! WE TOLD YOU ... !"

    just more of the usual sensationalizing ... which is not new.

    July 3, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  9. Respect

    NO body cares about indebting our children when we pay terrorist trillions to fix their countries, Billions to foreign countries in aid, billions to finance rogue groups to fight their governments, billions to foreign government officials, billions lost or overcharged by American businesses. Do you know that over 400 billion is unaccounted for from the Iraq war alone? Billions more for katrina.

    I have huge problems with some of Obama's agenda but whom do you trust. CEO's who are only concerned about profit. Why pay taxes when the taxes are not benefiting you? How does my taxdollars being sent to Israel, Africa, Europe, or South America benefit me?

    July 3, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Mark - Ex Dem

    Amazing that BO is making GW actually look like he was a great president. How sad that such a great country as ours has elected 2 losers the last 3 elections.

    But nothing is worse then BO trying to destroy this country with his socialist policy. Colin little to late for you too speak up!

    We are the greatest nation, and will even survive this.

    July 3, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. PMR

    Colin Powell should have been more prudent before offering his support to a former community organizer and inexperienced Senator
    for the huge job of President of the U. S. Also, what did Coilin think would happen once a socialistic Democrat took over the White House.
    Colin should have stayed true to his party and worked for changes within it.

    July 3, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. TangledThorns

    Powell! Good soldier, bad politician.

    July 3, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. JeffW

    Odd that this man that once backed Obama is now worried about his agenda. Coming as this does on the heels of Obama's approval ratings taking a good hit, the White House butt kissing press corp turning on him and all the other bad news Obama's agenda has gotten latley is just makes Mr. Powell look like he is not trying to save his own political career. Sad. You supported him sir, now take your medicine like a man.

    July 3, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Proc

    Powell should be thrown in jail for criticizing the Messiah.

    July 3, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Robert

    Why is it some people (Republicans mostly) spend like crazy while they are it office and complain about spending when they are not?

    Also, why is it we should not spend for health care and our economy BUT it is ok to spend all you want for a war (a war that should not have been by the way).

    July 3, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. rr florida

    A little late for Colin to see the light!! I've talked to a lot of OBama past supporters that are sorry now!!!
    The only people who are still supporting Obama are the ones who think he will be giving them "FREE STUFF" and are jealous of the rich!
    Well, go get an education, get a job and make your own money..it works....then you free loaders will see how it is to have PRIDE, FULFILLMENT, AND MONEY! and really understand how rich people become rich! They worked hard, saved, went without, so they could get ahead....try it...it works. And so shouldn't you!!

    July 3, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. JIM WHITTAKER, Hemet, CA

    You Loony Left Lib Lemmings can keep Powell.

    We don't want him back, ever!

    July 3, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. Neilz

    Everybody wants a "a government that works." The question has to be: Works for who?
    Obama is securing the role of big business and the American elite in the house of government. He is excluding the middle class and working class, marginalizing them with his "just wait for it" attitudes concerning unemployment, housing, and available healthcare. Meanwhile, the wealthy elite and the institutions that feed them are being shorn up and stabilized so the American taxpayer can continue to provide their financial security for decades to come.
    Powell, with his smoke and mirrors rhetoric, is positioning himself for a spot in government within the next administration or even possible candidacy. It's a smart political maneuver. When you stand in the center, it's more difficult for the opposition to anticipate where you're going to jump. Think Huntsman and Powell in 2012.

    July 3, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    First of all, Republicans and fiscal conservatism is a myth. All presidents (save Clinton who got lucky with a hot economy) has run a huge deficit and all of them have grown government (Yes, that means Reagan too).

    I support Obama, but I also support having a balanced budget. If this means raising taxes, then it means raising taxes. It may also mean cutting budgets. Almost 50% for the worlds defense spending is done by the US, I think I know of good place to start.

    As for a good way to reduce our deficit, we should start a war tax. First, to pay for the two wars we are in that we ran on a credit card (Started by bush, approved by both Democrats and Republicans). Second, to always be in effect when we send x number of soldiers to war. This will do two things for us. One, keep us all interested in who our government is attacking and why. Second, keep our deficit down.

    I'm sure Obama's dilemma is he doesn't want to cut spending or raise taxes during a recession. My hope is if the economy turns around a bit, he will be more aggressive trimming the fat. I'm sure he can see the writting on the wall and we don't want the US to end up like California.

    July 3, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. willowood

    I also agree his agenda is ambitious. Not wanting to harp on the total lack of ambition for the the prior administration, but we need to realize those years are gone and we have nothing much to show for them.
    We have so many areas that people want help solving. The tentacles are far reaching and the solutions difficult to project.
    President Obama would love to say we will wait to addresss a, b, c, d, e, f, ....but unfortunately we are being attacked on all fronts~ economy , housing, health care, food safety, global warming, ineffective and crumbling state governments, joblessness, WARS and errant foreign governments...the list goes on. So I appalaud his determination to address problems and do realize the price tag is very, very high...either way...sit and watch or try to solve...I'd rather attempt to solve than let America sit and watch.

    July 3, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. George Guadiane Austerlitz, NY

    On the one hand, I agree with General/Secretary Powell, it IS important that President Obama not have too much to absorb/to pay for, BUT...
    Who says we are at that point?
    If this administration had started with a fiscal surplus, as the last did, how much better off would we all be?
    If the country had entered this term without the fiscal travesty brought on by DECADES of wanton pilfering and pillage by "Big Business" and the collusive Federal "Corporatocracy," we would be facing NONE OF THIS.
    We are where we are and this President SEEMS to have the citizens as his primary concern, NOT big business.
    For generations, more and more wealth is going to fewer and fewer people... And it has been happening in an ethics free environment... Enron, Halliburton, Madoff, Savings and Loans, Banks, Big Agribusiness, and the rest, all using the system to profit at the expense of the society, humanity, environment – It's time to change the course of history (it's PAST time but), we are where we are, let this President have the freedom and latitude that the last one did...

    Honestly, at the end of the day, can THIS administration do any more (as much) harm as the last has to our Country???

    I don't think so! And he will probably do THE PEOPLE a lot of good..

    July 3, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. notabushwhacker

    To all the democratic party leaning individuals, your pitiful practicioners of power continued to fund the exercises that you look to Wbya as the cause for. Lacking the balls to not fund the war is why it was continued. Had the democrats mustered the balls to say no, it may have been a different picture today. Too bad you morons cannot come to grips with reality. Have a nice day when obama takes your last dime for some social program.

    July 3, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. Joseph

    You're concerned? Really? Well, you voted for him, idiot.

    July 3, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Adam

    Obama would have a lot less on his agenda if his predecessor had tried to focus on something other than Iraq. Let's face it: the president won in a landslide last year because Americans want this mess cleaned up. Even though I wish he were doing more I applaud his effort thus far.

    July 3, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. wpete in cali

    Colin. This is the guy you pushed for last fault. Blame yourself.

    July 3, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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