Lately we’ve been hearing so many contradictory statements from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in such a short period of time that I’m beginning to wonder if we have two look-alikes running around Washington testifying on Capitol Hill and giving impromptu news conferences where they say exactly the opposite.

Paulson’s most notorious about-face to date has been about the purpose of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. When he came to Congress in September and literally begged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the money, he said it would be used to buy up illiquid assets such as mortgage-backed securities so they wouldn’t clog up the balance sheets of banks, which had effectively frozen their lending and deep-frozen the credit markets.

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