The Right Idea. Very Bad Delivery.

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson rattled the financial markets this week by shifting gears in his strategy for the next phase of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Instead of throwing good money after bad by buying troubled assets from financial institutions, he indicated the government is going to tackle the issues that should provide relief to the American consumer by focusing on credit cards, student loans and auto loans.

It seems that this will have a very positive effect on consumers who have been watching the events on Wall Street unfold like a bad soap opera. It could be at least one remedy to help instill confidence in consumers and get the economy back on track.

But by deviating from the original bailout plan, Paulson sent a different message as well: that the problems facing the U.S. economy are more complex and far-reaching than the administration originally thought. It also begs the question, in the wake of this sudden strategic shift: Is $700 billion enough to tackle these and the myriad of other issues that have brought our economy to a screeching halt?

The challenge now for Paulson is reassuring the American public and the financial markets that redirecting the efforts of the bailout plan is a sign that he knows how to get the economy back on track — not that he is waffling on an earlier decision.



Visit www.armstrongwilliams.com .