NEW YORK — U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's $700 billion rescue package ran into difficulty on Capitol Hill over the weekend. Rightly so: It is ill-conceived. Congress would be abdicating its responsibility if it gave the Treasury secretary a blank check.

Early versions of the bill submitted to Congress even had language that would have exempted the secretary's decisions from review by any court or administrative agency — the ultimate fulfillment of the Bush administration's dream of a unitary executive.

Paulson's record does not inspire the confidence necessary to give him discretion over $700 billion. His actions two weeks ago brought on the crisis that makes rescue necessary. On Monday, Sept. 15, he allowed Lehman Brothers to fail and refused to make government funds available to save AIG. By Tuesday he had to reverse himself and provide an $85 billion loan to AIG on punitive terms.