Instead, the man who can call on talented career professionals at the Office of Management and Budget to produce detailed blueprints gave us something in the nature of a few numbers scrawled on a paper napkin.
The man depicted as pragmatic and free of ideological cant indulged in cheap political rhetoric, accusing Republicans, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who was in the audience, of pushing old ladies in wheelchairs down the hill and starving autistic children.
The signal was clear. Obama had already ignored his own deficit reduction commission in preparing his annual budget, which was later rejected 97-0 in the Senate. Now he was signaling that the time for governing was over and that he was entering campaign mode 19 months before the November 2012 election.
People took notice, especially those people who decide whether to hire or not. Goldman Sachs' Current Activity Indicator stood at 4.2 percent in March. In April -- in the middle of which came Obama's GW speech -- it was 1.6 percent. For May, it is 1.0 percent.
"That is a major drop in no time at all," wrote Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal.
After April 13, Obama Democrats went into campaign mode. They staged a poll-driven Senate vote to increase taxes on oil companies.
They launched a Mediscare campaign against Ryan's budget resolution that all but four House Republicans had voted for. That seemed to pay off with a special election victory in the New York 26th congressional district.
The message to job creators was clear. Hire at your own risk. Higher taxes, more burdensome regulation and crony capitalism may be here for some time to come.
One possible upside is that economic bad news may no longer be "unexpected." Another is that voters may figure out what is going on.