President Obama has unveiled a long-awaited plan to help the housing market. ... [L]ike much else in the ongoing financial bailout, this is medicine America will have to take.

The alternative, a deeper and longer recession, or worse, is far less appetizing.

... We hear stern objections to subsidizing homeowners who bought more house than they could afford or who borrowed recklessly. They ask why prudent Americans should be taxed to save people from their own folly. A good question.

However, these are extraordinary times. We may have to save some less-than-exemplary lenders and borrowers to save our economy and ourselves. ...

A prudent society imposes regulations to stop lenders from selling mortgages destined to fail. It doesn’t feed an asset bubble, in this case housing, by keeping interest rates absurdly low. And it doesn’t tolerate a financial system that takes vast risks and hides them because of campaign contributions to elected officials.

Indeed, the bribery in Washington by financial-services groups is at the root of much of the current disaster. ...

Anyway, there will always be irresponsible and lazy borrowers. When their numbers are kept at a reasonable level, we can let the market punish them for their folly. Regulations don’t end folly, but they do contain it. ...