Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Policymakers: Congress Must Move Quickly to Avert Damage


Consensus is building in Congress that a version of the bailout will be passed, and quickly, but that it will involve considerably more oversight and other provisions than were in the Bush administration's original plans.

In their most vigorous public defenses of the planned bailout to date, Paulson and Bernanke almost seemed to echo the outrage from their questioners. But they argued that the plan is necessary to protect ordinary Americans from the economic fallout of clogged markets for credit.

"I'm not only concerned, I'm angry about the things that got us here," said Paulson. "It makes me angry, and it makes you angry. You talk about taxpayers being on the hook? Guess what? They're already on the hook. If the system isn't stabilized, they're going to bear the cost."

He said later in response to a question, "I share the outrage that people have. It's embarrassing for the United States of America."

Both Paulson and Bernanke stressed that they are still working through details of how the government would price the troubled mortgage assets it buys under the $700 billion plan. But they asked that Congress leave them maximum flexibility to design those auctions or other procedures as they and their expert advisers see fit.

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