Here's a good and brief rundown of the bailout.
Of course, now that it's gotten voted down, it could change again.
By all indications, there is massive popular opposition to the bailout. Congressional fax lines and phones have been ringing off the hook with voters opposing the measure by huge margins--like 99 to 1. Opposition has come from the left--who don't want to see what they perceive as a handout to Wall Street--and the right--who see the bailout as a major blow against the free market and who remain convinced that there is a market solution to the credit crunch.
Personally, I do think that is is necessary for the government to step in and help open the credit markets. But plenty of economists and otherleaders--Nouriel Roubini, Paul Volcker and Joseph Stiglitz come to mind--who have talked about alternative solutions to the Pauslon plan. Up to now, all Congress has done is to take the Paulson plan and try and tweak it to make it more palatable to both sides. Perhaps it's time to chuck it.
(Hat tip Deal Junkie for pointing this out.)