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Paulson Urges Swift Approval of Bailout Legislation

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will step up their purchases of mortgage-backed securities to help provide support to the crippled housing market. Video by AP

"What I'm doing is reacting to deal with the situation we see in front of us today and to do so in a way that protects the American people," he said.

"We very much need regulations, new policies. That is going to take some time," he said.

Paulson said the United States is pressing other countries to take similar steps to bail out their troubled financial institutions.

"We are talking very aggressively with other countries around the world and encouraging them to do similar, and I believe a number of them will," he said.

The Treasury would hire professional asset managers to run the program, he explained. He said, as of now, hedge funds wouldn't be eligible to sell their troubled mortgage assets to the government.

Paulson rejected the idea that the administration could have acted sooner.

"I'm not sure what we could have done sooner," he said. It's been a "once-in-a-50-year kind of a situation here. And there is no way that we could have gone to Congress and got the authority to inject capital into the banking system by buying illiquid assets unless there was the clear and urgent and obvious need."

Paulson spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press," ABC's "This Week," "Fox News Sunday" and CBS "Face the Nation."

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