Barack Obama urged President Bush during their White House meeting yesterday to extend emergency aid to the auto industry, the New York Times reports. The president indicated that he might be willing to approve Detroit aid and a broader economic stimulus package—but only on the condition that the president-elect and congressional Democrats drop their long-standing opposition to a free trade deal with Colombia.
Bush is keen to see free trade pacts ratified with Colombia, South Korea and Panama before he leaves office. But Congress is refusing to play ball, citing human rights abuses of unionized workers in Colombia. Insiders say the Democrats are likely to call Bush's bluff on aid to automakers, betting that the president won’t want his legacy to include the collapse of such an iconic American company as GM.