Hank Paulson knows a lot about Wall Street. But he also knows a lot of the guys on Wall Street. And I fear that is the problem. From the beginning this whole bailout smelled more like welfare for his Wall Street billionaire cronies rather than for the good of the country. Not a single Wall Street guy has come forward and offered to do anything to make the bailout work but instead the attitude that has emanated from those quarters has been one of entitlement and arrogance.
While his experience is obviously valuable, I believe that Paulson's close relationship with Wall Street has provided a skepticism about the bailout. His opening offer to Congress was so arrogant and so lopsided in favor of Wall Street and his own powers, that it basically smacked of bad faith. Perhaps he was acting in good faith--but I think that Congress and the American people were skeptical. I sure as heck know I was. He did nothing to demonstrate that he was any different in character or integrity from the guys who got us into this and now want us to bail them out. We now know enough about the integrity of these guys to be skeptical about anything that they touch.
Hank Paulson is not an economist. He has not explained why he believed the blunderbuss bailout was the only option that would work. As the President of BB&T noted in his letter on the bailout, it appears that he knows nothing about commercial banking or exactly how or when the credit problems would trickle down to "Main Street."
Paulson should resign. If the same deal were negotiated with someone other than an old Wall Street crony, I think that many people would look on it differently. But as things stand, I think he is fatally flawed. If he really thinks that a bailout is what is best for the country, then he should resign. And let someone with greater independence from Wall Street come in and study the issue and see if this massive bailout plan is still necessary.