They call it TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and its original goal was to pump much-needed funds into the constricted loan market, freeing up capital and breaking through the financial clogs that seem to have our economy by the throat.
Public Law 110-343 was signed into law by President Bush on October 3rd, 2008. The official White House press release reads something like this:
"H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, and Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008, which authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a Troubled Assets Relief Program to purchase troubled assets from financial institutions; provides Alternative Minimum Tax relief; extends expiring tax provisions and establishes energy tax incentives; and temporarily increases Federal Deposit Insurance limits."