Henry Paulson: “Hurry Up! — Oops, Not So Fast!”

Posted on November 13, 2008

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You never want to hear a surgeon say, “Oops!”

Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that he is isn’t going to use the $700 billion Wall Street bailout to buy mysterious mortgage-backed securities from banks at bargain-basement prices, after all.

I guess we’ll have to find a new name for the so-called “Troubled Assets Relief Program.” Paulson said his new focus is on improving the availability of consumer credit. (So that we consumers can resume our shopping spree?)

Instead of buying toxic bank assets, Paulson said, the U.S. government will use the bailout money to buy stock in healthy banks. Call it socialized banking, version 2.0.

I’m only a humble reporter. I don’t have an MBA. I can barely manage my own checkbook. I don’t pretend to understand high finance. But here’s what I’m wondering: Does anyone at the Treasury Dept know what they’re doing?

Henry Paulson is probably a great guy and a financial genius. But right now, if he was a surgeon, I wouldn’t let him remove my appendix. — Bernie Hayden

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