Six months into his presidency, Barack Obama finds himself where he likely never expected -- surrounded by chaos. Some of it is admittedly the result of the Bush years, when banks, lenders, financial institutions, Wall Street and a host of others ran our economy slap into the ground. Then the lot of them got rescued. And now one blue-chip "investment banking firm" -- which has suddenly become a blue-chip regular bank -- announced this week that it would put over 70 percent of its profits into salary and bonuses as a strategy in a war among top "investment firms" for talent. What talent?
Other portions of the chaos are the result of the actions of the very "Axis of Evil" that former president Bush warned a skeptical national press corps about many years ago. We have big problems on the horizon coming from Axis members Iran and North Korea.
But much of what now engulfs our nation is the result of a president and Congress that have been in too big of a hurry to fix problems, some of which are indeed pressing, like the economy. And yet others of our difficulties aren't as immediately time-sensitive, including the massive and increasingly unpopular healthcare reform bill, climate control, and an endless number of czars and new proposed heads of programs designed to put government in charge of virtually every aspect of our lives.
Outside Washington, while Wall Street seems somewhat stabilized and the big investment banks are suddenly showing huge profits, the average guy on the street can't get a loan. Small businesses face cash flow crunches that seem insurmountable. Young people graduating from college can't find a job. And long-term employees of companies big and small are either facing significant pay cuts, or are being told they have to find a new job -- one that's not out there.
The massive stimulus bill sounded like a "chicken in every pot." But no one can find the chicken. Other than transportation projects and an extension of unemployment benefits, government bureaucrats across the nation are hard-pressed to tell how or when the stimulus dollars will arrive. And many of the programs slated to be paid for with stimulus money won't create a single new job in 2009.
Meanwhile, our state and local governments are having to curtail vital services such as law enforcement, firefighting and pay for teachers because they, too, are running out of money. Travel and tourism are down, and it's starting to look like retail will barely flicker through the year.