Monday, Jan. 19, 2009

The Muddled Bailout

It could have been much, much worse. For the first time, Bush gave someone with more expertise than political bona fides — Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson — control over economic policy and didn't let the hacks in the White House undercut him. Paulson's financial rescue has been awfully messy and expensive, but one shudders to think what might have happened if his much weaker predecessor, John Snow, had still been in charge at Treasury when trouble struck. The main problem has been the ambivalence with which both Paulson and the White House have approached the financial rescue. They backed into it, never articulating clear principles for how it should work. That's yet another thing the new Administration is going have to rectify.

See pictures of TIME's Wall Street covers.