Obama Move to the Center is All Talk So Far: Welch

President Obama's attempts to move to the political center have been more cosmetic than concrete, author and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch told CNBC.

Jack Welch
Jack Welch

Speaking as the president tries to find common ground with the new Republican-led House of Representatives, Welch said the supposed shift from the president's liberal base hasn't amounted to much as far as policy is concerned.

"The tack to the center is verbal, it's not actionable," he said.

As an example, he cited Obama's move last month that permitted employees of the Transportation Security Administration to unionize. The directive has come under criticism as further evidence of the president's anti-business position and a further placation of organized labor.

"Let's hope he's moving to the center," Welch said. "But from what I see—unionizing 43,000 TSA workers on a Friday and giving a speech (to the US Chamber of Commerce) Monday morning—show me the money."

Welch also took on the topic of public sector unions overall, saying the debate in Wisconsin is about what rights public sector employees have under collective bargaining, which is entirely different than the issue in the private sector.

Gov. Scott Walker's move to take away collective bargaining rights for health benefits from the state's unions has inspired a nationwide firestorm over government austerity and whether unions should be allowed in the public sector.

But Welch said comparing the rights of public workers with private is like comparing giraffes and cats.

"They're trying to mix them. They're two different arguments," he said. "Scott Walker has not done a (good) job of clarifying what the giraffe is like and what the cat is like."