Though its passage remains uncertain, the bailout bill would make Henry Paulson the most powerful mortgage financier in history, Peter Gosselin writes in the Los Angeles Times. Paulson got nearly everything he asked for; restrictions supposedly reining him in are little more than window dressing. Additions like the Democrats’ housing-relief provision and Republican mortgage insurance need to be heeded only at Paulson’s discretion.
The $700 billion is split up, yes, but Congress will have to specifically vote not to disperse the last $350 billion—and Paulson can use it virtually however he pleases, including hiring outside advisement firms and even helping foreign banks. Only one significant hitch worked its way in—the clause allowing the government to buy into firms it helps.