Serious Nuts-and-bolts Questions

Everyone is taking their whacks, but underlying the Senatorial posturing and I-told-you-sos, are a series of serious logistical logjams -- even as the administration and Congress near conceptual agreement on a deal.

1. The valuation of the assets to be bought. Several Banking Committee members raised concerns that overvaluing distressed mortgage assets and debt instruments the government buys is the only way to save the markets -- and virtually assures that taxpayers will get soaked.

2. Constitutionally appropriate role for Congress. There's anxiety that the $700 billion price tag assures that the President, whoever he is, won't need anything out of Congress after they vote "yea." Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) said Congress can't attach all the necessary regulations onto the current bill and fretted the will to do so might dissipate if the current crisis fades and lobbyists start preying on the "carrion"of the distressed assets program.

3. CEO compensation. Almost every senator who spoke during their 8 minutes of allotted time, referenced the need to hold Wall Street execs accountable for their misdeeds, but none offered a specific mechanism to do so. 

4. Time. There seems to be a growing consensus that Congress can't accomplish all it needs to given the Friday deadline. Some senators, including Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, are calling for members to put their fall campaign recess on hold to deal with the worst financial crisis in generations.

That impressive Dow rally? Done. It was up about 20 points when Paulson began speaking at 10:55 a.m.