WASHINGTON - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke struck a conciliatory tone yesterday, assuring members of the House Financial Services Committee both that the primary goal of their $700 billion bailout plan is to protect Americans at the "lunch-bucket" level and that the administration will need Congress' help and oversight with the plan.

"I think maybe we haven't communicated as clearly as we could about the program," Paulson told committee chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., in the second of two days of hearings on Capitol Hill where he and Bernanke tried to sell the bailout plan to skeptical lawmakers.

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