Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke ran into a bipartisan buzzsaw of criticism and skepticism during a 5-hour pitch for their massive bailout plan on Capitol Hill today, the Washington Post reports. Afterward, Sen. Chris Dodd, the Democratic chair of the Senate's banking panel, flatly declared the plan "unacceptable." And Sen. Richard Shelby, the panel's ranking Republican, suggested that Congress pursue "some alternatives."
Senators repeatedly made the point that the $700 billion proposal is too big to be pushed through without rigorous scrutiny. Paulson and Bernanke, meanwhile, warned that time is short and that the US could fall into a recession. So what now? A consensus is building that the plan will indeed pass quickly, but that it will include more oversight, more help for regular homeowners, and perhaps more penalties for Wall Street bigwigs.