Bush: I'll Trade You Detroit for Colombia?

Posted by: David Kiley on November 11, 2008

If news reports this morning are correct, the Bush Administration is willing to trade a loan bailout for Detroit, which it has opposed, for a Congressional cave-in on a trade deal that will benefit the country of Colombia.

By mid-day, though, the White House was denying it expressed a quid pro quo to President-elect Barack Obama that would have him and Congress support the Colombia Free Trade Pact in exchange for Detroit aid.

Not Columbia, Maryland, mind you. Not Columbia South Carolina. The country of Colombia.

Remember when the presidential candidates were arguing over free-trade deals? The Colombia thing? The administration wants Congress to lift restrictions we have with the South American country that makes it tougher for U.S. companies to sell stuff there. The opposition by Congress isn’t centered on a potential loss of jobs in the U.S. In fact, Columbia export companies already have nearly total unrestricted access to the U.S. But it doesn’t work the other way.

Labor unions, a reliable Democratic voting bloc opposes the change. Opposition to the Colombia deal is not rooted in organized labor’s fear of lost jobs, the issue behind unions’ opposition to past trade deals like Nafta. It is over the killings of labor advocates and leaders in more than two decades of Colombia’s long civil wars.

According to the National Labor School, a research organization in Colombia, more than 2,500 union members have been killed since 1985, with fewer than 100 cases resulting in convictions.

Imports from Colombia totaled $9.4 billion in 2007, mostly oil, spices, coffee and tea. Exports of machinery, chemicals, plastics, corn and other goods to the country were $8.6 billion.

The election is over. Obama and House speaker Pelosi have long stood against the Columbia pact. But given the enormous impact of a GM or Chrysler banktruptcy on organized labor, the unions may just give the Democrats the cover they need to get a bill passed next week to save Detroit, even if it does wind up helping Colombia.

Reader Comments

Paul (Vw)

November 11, 2008 4:03 PM

Leaks are just that. They are not statements of fact. From Obama's transition chief today:

>>> UPDATE: Podesta agrees, relays Victoria McGrane. At a pen and pad briefing today, Obama transition chief John Podesta said that “there was no quid pro quo in the conversation.” The buzz this morning that Bush had made that offer was the result of “reports which were not accurate,” he said.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/11/politics/politico/thecrypt/main4593339.shtml

alex crudello

November 12, 2008 8:46 AM

I have a idea,bail out detroit and help our selves by telling bush to get lost on anything that is for other countries.That deal will only put us back where we are now,no progress if they take that. Then we know there will never be any change or hope for manufacturing again in the U.S.A.Read My Lips, NO MORE BUSH NO MORE FREE TRADE OUTSOURCING DEALS, NO MORE OR WE ARE POOR!

Alexander O'Shanoon

November 13, 2008 2:44 AM

You frigin liberal koolaid drinkers!

Read the whole article - "The administration wants Congress to lift restrictions...that makes it tougher for U.S. companies to sell stuff there."

THIS MEANS APPROVAL WOULD PROVIDE MORE CUSTOMERS TO BUY US PRODUCTS - IE MORE AMERICAN JOBS!

"In fact, Columbia export companies already have nearly total unrestricted access to the U.S."

IF WE DON'T PASS THE DEAL, COLUMBIANS WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE FULL ACCESS TO OUR MARKETS WITH NO US COMPETITION IN THEIR OWN - THUS WE LOOSE JOBS!

John Kerr

November 13, 2008 12:49 PM

The ban on the Columbian trade pact sends the wrong message to our allies. The US has always been two-faced on trade which is why Canadians and others don't trust us. A new pipeline from Alberta to the west coast would be a likely and justified Canadian response to a unilateral Obama redo of NAFTA.

Charles w. Dismukes

November 13, 2008 10:38 PM

We do not need to bailout GM, Ford or any car company. We need to let them go broke, so they will have to get there act together under more efficient management. The Democrats owe th unions and they are demanding payback. If the car companies go under, they can rid themselves of the high employee wellfair benefits that are sinking them.

Chappell

November 14, 2008 2:19 PM

I WORK IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY AT AN IMPORT DEALER. WHEN TOYOTA AND OTHER IMPORTS WERE ALLOWED TO BUILD FACTORIES HERE AND COMPETE HEAD TO HEAD WITH DOMESTIC COMPANIES, WE SIGNED THE DEATH WARRANT FOR OUR OWN AUTOMAKERS. THE IMPORT COMPANIES WERE STARTUPS AND DID NOT HAVE TO PAY 80 PLUS YEARS OF HEALTH AND PENSION BENEFITS. THE REAL FIX FOR THE AUTO INDUSTRY IS TO OPEN UP THE SUB PRIME FINANCE. PROBLEM! THOSE COMPANIES ARE GOING DOWN FAST AND CAN'T SECURE THEIR NEW LOANS. NO LOANS, NO SALES, NO WAY A BAILOUT FOR THE BIG THREE WORKS.

alex crudello

November 16, 2008 11:40 PM

If all the trade agreements of the past have not created a robust economy then their Two dollar an hour Columbian economy will never buy a 10 plus an hour product with a tax before it enters their country.Our auto industry would be thriving with all the jobs created from these job creating trade deals,you must be a Bush loving multilateral american trader,like our GOVNTS SLOGAN SAYS I WANT YOU,YOUR JOB IS NEXT.Now china wants our congress to not pass any protectionist bills or they will call our debt,Now next 4th of july we should celebrate our INDEPENDENCE?

American dreamer

November 17, 2008 7:23 PM

Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi, please let the Bush administration bail out GM and sign the Free Trade agreement with Colombia.
Do the People of the United States of America really know what is going on in South America. Mr. Chavez, (with his Petrodollars) has already CONQUERED Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Argentina, and wants Colombia to be added to his list. In order to achieve this, He is helping the Terrorist and Drug trafficker group, FARC (The same that kidnapped Three American Citizens, and held them in infra human conditions for more than five ( 5 ) years until the Colombian Armed Forces rescue them without firing a single shot). Three of Chavez closest collaborators were included in the Clinton´s list, this year, for their relationship with the FARC. Killing the Labor advocates and leaders of the Opposition only helps the enemies of the Free Trade agreement. Who do you think is doing the killings?
If the GM´s bail out is approved, many Americans jobs will be saved and if the Free Trade with Colombia is approved, Mr. Chavez will not have another opportunity to Black mail Colombia, threatening to close the Frontier and not allowing Venezuelans to buy any goods from Colombia.
If the South America Countries are Free and Prosperous, USA will be Safer and Richer.
Please help Colombia before it is to late.

alex crudello

November 19, 2008 8:08 AM

Passing the free trade so we lose more jobs and set a path for all Mr Chavez friends to have more avenues to attack the usa is not in our best interest.If these agreements were good for the majority of our country we would still have a economy and a auto industry thriving,this is unfair compatition and the flooding of foriegn cars is the blame.

Miss Jackson

December 6, 2008 10:27 AM

Sure if you change the Trade agreement with Columbia we will be repeating the 80's and there will be a flood of Drugs throughout the US...Save Detroit, ha ha ha biggest drug city! How about kill the communities by sending our sons and daughter to jail for selling these narcardics and or sending them to their graves for using them.

Ms ColOmbia

December 20, 2008 11:29 PM

Would you please stop referring to the country as ColUmbia (with a U) it is ColOmbia (with and O)!

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