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David Walker
Political/Philanthropic leader

David Walker

Former Comptroller General of the United States, David Walker is founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative.


Question: From a leadership perspective--moving the country and the political process away from division and gridlock and toward consensus, confidence and action--how would you grade President Obama's State of the Union speech?

President Obama's speech was a "A" in tone and style but was a "D" on substance, especially in connection with the need to put the federal government's finances in order. This translates to an overall grade of C+. As the nation's CEO, the president has the obligation to provide the leadership and vision necessary to show how we can create jobs, enhance our competitiveness AND address our escalating federal spending, deficits and debt levels. We must address all three with energy and urgency. The time for actions rather than words is now!

By David Walker

 |  January 25, 2011; 10:47 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: B | Next: B+


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You mean the Rodney King look a like speech, "why can't we all just get along?"

Posted by: thejames1225 | January 31, 2011 12:24 PM
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Wow, somebody got it right, D on substance.
Just one question, why was it so high?

Posted by: thejames1225 | January 31, 2011 12:22 PM
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Interesting how Mr. Walker's organizations webpage displays at its very top, the comeback America initiative AND the phrase Keeping America Great - well, which is it?

The truth is that for awhile, we've been paying too much, for little in return domestically. I'm not certain as to what he thinks is great about credit bubbles, wage stagnation, and limitless debt with no accountability or return - except corporate shell games.

Perhaps, in his speech the President is opening the door to the wunderkinds of finance and management to do away with their own rhetoric, and successfully manage the systems they have been touted as being experts in and students of. Even if only average students...

Posted by: cooney_colin | January 28, 2011 11:02 PM
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Obama had nothing to say about the poor, middle-class families, minorities and very, very little about Small Businesses.

Also he was very vague about the economy and the wars.

I think C+ was too generous – but then again, I am a Black Small Business owner and his Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me.

Posted by: question-guy | January 28, 2011 9:33 PM
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Kudos to David Walker for having the audacity to give the speech a C. What were all the other panelists watching. Neither Obama nor Paul Ryan in his response offered any substantive details on how to get the nation out of its financial crisis. And only two days later, the Social Security Administration announces that it will run out of funds in 2037, a worse scenario than had previously been envisioned. When you get past the cheerleaders and their pom-poms, it's clear the emperor has no clothes.

Posted by: Jumpy66 | January 27, 2011 12:06 PM
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The president "talks the talk", but does not "walk the walk"....meaning that the rhetoric is right, but his actions rate an "F"...

Posted by: SeniorVet | January 27, 2011 10:21 AM
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Actually I disagree w/ the two prior comments.

However I think the grade of C+ is a little harsh.

I would say B-. The speech was bipartisan in tone but ideological in policy sliding back to the left. He advocating a return to income tax increases on the wealthy, removing petroleum subsidies while continuting "green" subsidies and his freeze in spending continues the pattern of deficits of at least a trillion dollars as far as the eye can see. He also disregarded his own defecit commisions entire reccomendations; so what was the point then ? It gives the commission the same effect as those prior; symbolic dog & pony show to look "fiscally responsible" but in reality w/o adoption of ANY proposals it was a complete waste of time and resources.

The reality is jobs come from economic growth and in order to get jobs in a capitalist system you need capital formation (free market investment). Economic growth + capital formation + increased employment = increased government revenue.

If you offset this with true reduction in the size/spending of government and target governmunt funds into key areas along w/ entitlement reform you are on the right path.

Unfortunately, it appears that the President is ideologically committed to the grow government/spending approach while occasionally moving to the center to cooperate but not in a meaningfule way.

The next step is his budget without a complete change he hands the GOP serious electoral cannon fodder for 2012. They will use it to fire him or at least gain a majority in the Senate.

Posted by: King2641 | January 26, 2011 7:50 PM
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I wonder if Mr. Walker listened to the same SOUA as I did? For, if he had paid attention, he'd have heard the President say the following:

"[T]onight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.

This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I've proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.


Now, most of the cuts and savings I've proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won't.

The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don't agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it - in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes."

And concerning Mr. Walker's claim that the President lacks vision, there's this:

"Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology - an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.


[C]lean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all - and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America's success."

Is that enough vision for you?

Posted by: getsumome | January 26, 2011 5:51 PM
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Mr. Walker, you have not cited a single specific ambiguity in the President's sppech. I remember the President justifying every spending proposal in his speech with a cut somewhere else. Your opinion gets an F.

Posted by: skeptik3 | January 26, 2011 2:12 PM
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