Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson warned congressional Democrats again about adding ancillary programs to his proposal for buying mortgage-related assets.
"We need this to be clean and to be quick, and we need to get it in place," Paulson said on ABC's "This Week."
Specifically, Paulson warned against adding a measure that has been under consideration to limit compensation for executives at the companies selling these illiquid assets. "We don't want to make (the legislation) punitive," he said.
Democrats also have discussed adding assistance for homeowners facing foreclosure and new authority for bankruptcy judges to restructure mortgages. In addition, there has been talk about moving a separate, but related, bill to address broader economic issues, a second economic stimulus package to help boost local economies. But in each of his interviews on Sunday morning, Paulson echoed a Republican drive to keep this legislation as clean as possible.
"The vast majority of foreclosures in this country," Paulson said, "are coming from people who either don't want to stay in their home and live up to their obligations or those that never had the financial capability to stay in their home, took out loans they couldn't afford as the result of irresponsible lending practices."
Paulson believes Congress must revamp the country's financial regulatory system, but not in this bill. Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), who is authoring the legislation with Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), believes Congress must move quickly to grant the Treasury Department this authority, but he would like Congress to deal with the root causes of this financial slide as part of the legislation or in a related deal.
"I want accountability. I want reciprocity," Dodd said on "This Week." "While we need to act quickly, there is an expectation that we act responsibility."
Frank was more to the point: "We have a difference on what's clean," Frank said of his conversations with Paulson about executive compensation limits during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation."
House Republican Leader John A. Boehner, whose right flank is starting to break against the decision to grant this authority, reiterated his call for a clean bill.
"There are a lot of well-meaning, well-intentioned ideas out there, but they don't need to be part of this package," Boehner said during a side-by-side interview with Dodd. "We don't need 535 members of Congress adding their best ideas to this bill."