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Critics question bailout

Protections for taxpayers sought

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Bush administration officials today defended a plan to unfreeze credit markets by buying hundreds of billions in "toxic" mortgage-related assets, saying the alternative is more failures of banks and financial institutions and a breakdown in lending that would hobble the economy. The plan has come under fire from lawmakers of both parties, who want more targeted relief for troubled homeowners and assurances that the financial institutions that participate in the massive program won't profit at taxpayer expense. In the first public debate over the plan, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., called the administration's proposal to take $700 billion or more in troubled assets off the balance sheets of banks and financial institutions "stunning and unprecedented in its scope and lack of detail." Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, complained that the administration's plan "would do nothing to help even a single family save a home" while allowing fi...