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Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson takes questions from the press after announcing changes to the bailout plan Nov. 12, 2008. - 


First, though, Henry Paulson. We've told you over the past couple of weeks that there isn't any buying up of troubled assets going on. Today, Hank Paulson made it official.

Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale starts us off.

Dimsdale: Secretary Paulson was unapologetic about the change in plans. He said the purchase of bad assets would have been too slow to help banks, while the new strategy of injecting government capital will shore up banks and attract private investments.

Tape of Henry Paulson: As the situation worsened, the facts change. The thing I'm grateful for is we were prescient enough, Congress was, that we got a wide array of authorities and tools under this legislation. And I will never apologize for changing an approach or strategy when the facts change.

Paulson said he might use some of what's left in the bailout to encourage broader lending to consumers,
now that credit card, student and car loans are drying up. The Department is reportedly thinking of requiring that lenders match future government payments with money they raise on their own. And John Dearie at the Financial Services Forum says forcing lenders to come up with their own capital eases the perception that the government is choosing winners and losers with its money.

John Dearie: The extent to which you can minimize government involvement by trying to leverage the government's involvement by bringing in or encouraging private capital, I think that's wise on Secretary Paulson's part.

Paulson is also under pressure to use bailout money to help homeowners facing foreclosure. He praised Fannie and Freddie's plans to set voluntary standards for banks to ease mortgage terms, but stopped short of endorsing an FDIC-backed plan to buy distressed mortgages. He said that crosses the line into a government spending program.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.