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Too Much Power for Paulson?

Surprisingly, what may prove to be the most controversial paragraph in in the three-page Wall Street bailout plan drawn up by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wasn't mentioned until today's nearly five-hour Senate Banking committee hearing had almost adjourned.

Here it is:

"Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

Though Paulson was strident throughout today's hearing that Treasury will need strong oversight, protection and transparency to execute the bailout, Banking committee chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) brought up the paragraph and told Paulson, "This language, in my view, cannot last."

Dodd said that he could not remember, in his years of experience on the Hill, language so "sweeping, to put it mildly."

Paulson responded by saying the bailout plans is "bare bones" and still requires work, but that he needs the ability to move quickly to implement the bailout plan and, presumably, such immunizing language would enable him to do so.

The language already caught the eye of, the conservative news site, which called it a "blank check."

-- Frank Ahrens

By Frank Ahrens  |  September 23, 2008; 3:01 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Next: Talk To Chuck (Schumer)? Can't. He's on TV.


please someone please someone in the news media ask potatohead paulson this.

1/ who are you bailing out!! its not americans!!!! who owns most of this bad waist from your freinds on wallstreet??

oh ya china, japan,korea, and others..

so americans , you will be bailing out all these commies..


LET THEM FALL JUST AS THEY HAVE LET MILLIONS OF AMERICANS FALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Posted by: david a belanger,veteran | September 23, 1908 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I am LIVID!!! These men and women are supposed to be brighter than the rest of us common folk and look at the mess ALL of them have gotten us in. Good God people, we common folk know that greed is bad and that we need to live within our means even if it means cutting back BIG time, and making sacrifices.

Yet the NYC money people and the politicians in Washington DC seem to think OUR money is theirs to do damn well what they want with.

If they were in China they would be facing a firing squad by weeks end!!! Instead ALL of them will only get richer off this mess and we common folk will be left to clean up their manure!!

I personally think the CEO's and others who allowed this to happen should be arrested and put on trial where the common man/woman makes up the jury.

Posted by: MotherLodeBeth | September 23, 1908 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"Sec. 8. Review.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

If the Congress approves this I will head to Canada.

Um...look dudes/ettes, this is basically telling us he knows he will do illegal things with this money and wants immunity upfront.

A moron could see that. Tell these jokers to go pound sand.

Posted by: Linda | September 23, 1908 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Giving more money to these guys to fix the problem that they caused in the first place is like giving an alcohalic a drink to stop the shakes.

Posted by: Angry person | September 23, 1908 3:42 PM | Report abuse

If Paulson cannot move quickly enough to handle this crisis within normal Constitutional and legal limits, then he should step aside in favor of someone who is ready and able to act within the law. Paulson is no longer a CEO and this is not a monarcy, yet.

Posted by: George Gowen | September 23, 1908 3:47 PM | Report abuse

A spoof of what's really happening....

********** Request for urgent business Relationship **********

A spam e-mail
From: Paulson.Bernanke[@]
To: citizen[@]USA/

First, we must solicit your strictest confidence in this transaction. We are sure and have confidence of your ability and reliability to prosecute a transaction of this great magnitude.

We are top officials of the Federal Government who are interested in obtaining funds presently held by our government's treasury and trapped in the treasury by the restrictions over Congress imposed by the 'Commerce Clause' of our Constitution.

The government officials previously set up companies and awarded these companies contracts which were grossly over-invoiced in various departments (Pentagon, Aerospace, N.A.S.A., etc, etc.).

We are presently attempting to seize all remaining funds.

Before these monies are paid out we, as civil servant, are unable to access these funds directly because of the 'Commerce Clause" in the Constitution, and we request that you petition your elected representatives to ignore the commerce clause and deposit the initial sum of
$700,000,000,000 (7 hundred-thousand-million dollars) into the Federal Reserve Banking Consortium.

We admit that there is a strong possibility that The Supreme Court may find that the framers of the constitution enabled Congress ONLY to make laws and NOT to transfer the contents of the treasury to a quasi-government institution, but we implore you to not petition The Supreme Court to see if this proposed transaction is constitutional. We MUST keep the courts out of this transaction.

In keeping with the spirit of this proposed transaction N.A.S.A. has redirected our 'deep space probe' away from Pluto and has sent it directly to

Faithfully yours,

Paulson Bernanke
Lobbyist - Federal Reserve Bank, Nigeria

end of spoof..... ?


Posted by: John Charles Webb | September 23, 1908 3:49 PM | Report abuse

This grab for power is a travesty. Congress had better wake up. Who is he to get this unlimited, dictatorial power? He may be as responsible as anyone for this crisis considering what position he held in the private sector; the very same segment of the sector that is being bailed out. It is not surprising that such an imperious power grab came from this administration considering their conduct in office to date. It is also not surprising that Paulson would unabashedly inject such a stipulation into the plan considering the hubris with which he and his fellow CEOs in the financial sector operate; they seem to have a Caligula complex, i.e., they think they are divine. Well, it is revealed they have feet of clay.

Posted by: ChuckB | September 23, 1908 3:53 PM | Report abuse

This financial package brought to you by the makers of the Iraq War funding plan, trickle down economics, and tax cuts for the wealthy.

So lets get this straight.

The Wall Street multi-thousands of mega-millionaires screwed up. So they come to the government to get money out that they didn't put in at all, and give the government worthless securities (liabilities) in exchange? They lose only debt and gain a cash reward in the end.

I forsee this ending up costing us trillions.

Posted by: Greg S. | September 23, 1908 3:59 PM | Report abuse

John Charles, God, that is good. There should be an award for this. I feel the imminent approach of the probe.

Posted by: ChuckB | September 23, 1908 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The shortest book in the history of the world is the list of Bush administration successes. I can't think of one thing that has been done well. Why in the world would Congress give Bush or his minions power like this. Maybe a good economic depression would bring some realism to the "give it to me now because I deserve it" generations.

Posted by: taxpayer | September 23, 1908 4:02 PM | Report abuse

This is why when Bush says, "Don't read it, just pass it", you read it. The cited paragraph all but screams, "THE POWER IS MINE, ALL MIIIIIIIINNNNEE, MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!" On first blush no court would let it stand as it obviously violates the 1st Amendment's protection of the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. The Republicans are truly the enemies of democracy. They have proven themselves incurably unpatriotic. (Oooohhh, they are going to have to wear that label for at least a generation for all the damage they've done to this land. Hang it around their necks, and never, ever, EVER let them forget it!)

Posted by: treetopflyer | September 23, 1908 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Haven't there been enough blank checks, and collateralized checks, and debt-swap checks, and everything except Slovakian checks?

If Paulson doesn't know what to do (and he doesn't), Congress is crazy to pass this. if Paulson does know what to do, passing it would be even crazier.

The only possible way to make this worse would be to have Dick Cheney made Treasurer-for-Life.

Posted by: Norwegian Blue | September 23, 1908 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the comment above posted by Mr. John Charles Webb. We in Nigeria welcome Mr. Paulson and feel he offers us a good second stage--or mezzanine, if you will--for how to make our fax and mass-mailing ponzi schemes cash out at "maturity." We look forward to his availability following completion of his service with your government, which we trust will conclude very shortly


Posted by: Nigerian Banker | September 24, 1908 2:39 PM | Report abuse

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