U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Friday urged Congress to back a bold plan to attack financial market weakness by buying up risky loans and said this was the best long-run hope to save taxpayer's money. "We must now take further, decisive action to fundamentally and comprehensively address the root cause of our financial system's stresses," Paulson said in a statement.

"The federal government must implement a program to remove these illiquid assets that are weighing down our financial institutions and threatening our economy," he said in prepared remarks.

"This troubled asset relief program must be properly designed and sufficiently large to have maximum impact, while including features that protect the taxpayer to the maximum extent possible," he said.

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