Last updated: February 9, 2009 - 9:56am
The easy part is coming to an end. Ask just about anyone in Washington involved in the $800-billion-plus economic stimulus legislation churning its way through Congress and they will tell you it is a milestone — but without question the less expensive, and politically and technically less chancy, part of the Great National Bailout of 2009. This week, President Obama and his Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, will prepare the country for the next, and far more difficult, step: another attempt to fill the huge hole blown in the center of the nation's financial system. No one has yet put a price tag on that effort. But the administration's diagnosis of what went wrong with the first attempt to right the financial system — that it was too small, and that the problem has ballooned in recent months — suggests that the next effort will almost certainly entail a far bigger commitment of taxpayer dollars than the $350 billion left from last year's $700 billion effort to right the system, and probably far more than the stimulus package.
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