Treasury chief Paulson on verge of historic new powers
The administration's bailout plan would make him temporary overseer of the US financial system.
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Secretary Paulson is not the sole architect of the Bush administration's bailout strategy for the US economy, of course. By all accounts he is part of a troika of top policymakers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and New York Fed Chief Timothy Geithner.
But as the public face and dealmaker of the plan, Paulson is the one most in the spotlight. Moreover, bailout legislation submitted to Congress by the White House over the weekend would transform Paulson's office into that of temporary overseer of America's entire financial system.
The proposed expanded powers for the Treasury secretary are one aspect of the Bush bailout plan that has drawn criticism from Democratic members of Congress.
Under the proposal, the United States Treasury would have the power to buy virtually any financial instrument from any institution, as a means to relieve it of bad assets and pump credit back into the economy. New Treasury staff would help manage this program, although the administration foresees contracting with private firms to manage its new asset holdings.
Oversight of Treasury sought
For the most part lawmakers aren't grumbling about Paulson himself.
What lawmakers do want is more oversight of the program than the White House has outlined so far. Many are troubled by wording in the proposal that appears to bar any review of Treasury's bailout actions by the courts or other administrative agencies.