A Republican rebellion stalled government efforts on Thursday to avoid economic meltdown, a chaotic turnaround that disrupted the choreography of an extraordinary White House meeting meant to show joint resolve from the president, the political parties and the presidential candidates. Instead, the summit broke up so bitterly that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson got on one knee before Democratic leaders in a theatrical attempt to salvage talks.
After six days of bare-knuckled negotiations on the $700 billion financial industry bailout proposed by the Bush administration, with Wall Street tottering and presidential politics intruding six weeks before the election, there was far more confusion than clarity. An apparent breakthrough was announced with fanfare at midday by key members of Congress from both parties but not top leaders. Wall Street cautiously showed its pleasure, with the Dow Jones industrials closing 196 points higher.
But the good news and the market close were followed by a rash of less-positive developments.