According to the text of the draft bailout bill, the “troubled assets” that the Secretary of the Treasury is given $700 billion to purchase are not only mortgage-backed securities, but “any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages.” And Paulson is actually given authority to blow past even that vague limitation, since “troubled assets” also include:
Any other financial instrument that the Secretary, after consultation with the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, determines the purchase of which is necessary to promote financial market stability, but only upon transmittal of such determination, in writing, of the appropriate committees of Congress.
On October 11, 2002, the Senate approved the following:
The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to–
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
UPDATE II: A Wonk Room reader writes in that Paulson’s authority is restrained because he has to consult with Congress. In fact, the Iraq war resolution required the same:
In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and
(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. . . .
The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 2 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of Public Law 105-338 (the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998).
UPDATE III: The oversight provisions in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 include reports from the Treasury Secretary; an Special Inspector General appointed by the President; an Oversight Board of cabinet-level Presidential appointees, including the Treasury Secretary; reports and audits by the Comptroller General, appointed by the President; reports from Office of Management and Budget (White House) and the Congressional Budget Office; and a bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel appointed by Congressional leadership.
UPDATE IV: The House defeated the bill 225-208.