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 Townhall.com, the conservative news site, which called it a "blank check."
-- Frank Ahrens
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