The administration is requesting “unfettered authority” to buy whatever with the $700 billion worth of bailout money they’re asking for. And of course that’s what they want. If you were to give me authority to do something, I’d prefer to get the unfettered kind. But you almost certainly wouldn’t give it to me. And you especially wouldn’t give it to me if the problem the authority was meant to resolve had occurred under my watch. If this scale of funds is going to be spent. Here’s Ed Paisley for CAP on what a reasonable package could look like:

Thanks to the leadership of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Sheila Bair, Congress has a model to work with. The FDIC is doing just this at failed California-based IndyMac Bank. By engaging in systematic loan restructuring, rather than foreclosing on the failed bank’s mortgages, the FDIC will likely end up preserving more value and reducing taxpayer exposure. Whatever agency Congress assigns to this broader task should do the same, restructuring troubled loans in the portfolio of mortgages they purchase in a systematic manner, rather than through piecemeal modifications. The result of refinancing more loans than private holders have been able or willing to do will be fewer defaults and foreclosures.

The financial markets are but one of the economic problems we face. The last eight years brought stagnant wages and weak job creation—with the situation getting even worse over the course of this year. Restoring our economy requires a plan to address the financial crisis and the underlying weakness in our economy. We need to make job-creating, growth-producing investments in our infrastructure and transform to a low-carbon economy. The legislative package that moves rapidly through Congress to implement Paulson’s new plan should also include expanded unemployment benefits and heating assistance for low-income families, increased food stamps, and assistance for states in providing health coverage to families in need during these difficult times. The folly of Wall Street and the negligence of the Bush administration has produced today’s pain on main street. It would not be right if the rescue only rescues firms and not families.

To give the regulatory authorities who failed to prevent this crisis carte blanche to hand out money to the financial institutions who caused the crisis while doing nothing for ordinary people would be outrageous.