Remember that $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program? asked Will Bunch in the Philadelphia Daily News online. Well, “heh heh, this is kind of funny”—Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson just “decided not to buy any Troubled Assets after all.” Paulson’s new plan—to directly bolster the financial markets, in part by helping creditworthy borrowers get loans—may actually work much better, but it highlights TARP’s total lack of transparency, oversight, or accountability.

Give Paulson “some credit for being willing to admit he made a mistake and change course,” said Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times online. The original TARP law was thrown together hastily, and there were bound to be “holes in it.” He’s now trying to fix them, and while “it’s easy to call it a flip-flop,” at least he’s turning in the right direction.

Maybe, but by “turning on a dime,” Paulson is making the investor class dizzy, said Robert Stein in Connecting the Dots. With all this “fumbling” for the right plan, it’s no wonder “the stock market keeps going down, waiting for a signal about where all this confusion is heading.” Barack Obama’s Treasury chief can’t take office soon enough.

“All the fury” surrounding TARP, said Elizabeth Moyer in Forbes online, misses the larger picture—the government’s total response to the credit crisis has already put us “on the hook for some $5 trillion,” and counting. That makes TARP a “downright puny” part of the puzzle. Paulson hasn’t unfrozen the credit markets, but it’s not for lack of trying.