Responding to reports that President Bush hoped to trade passage of a Colombia free trade deal for a bailout for Detroit automakers, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said today that "the President did not suggest a quid pro quo."
She went on to say that "he did talk about the merits of free trade in hopes that the next administration will recognize that not only is that good for our businesses -- especially if you want to create jobs, one of the best ways to do that is to open up new markets for our businesses and our entrepreneurs."
The Colombia deal is considered by many to be one of Bush's top priorities before he leaves office. "When it comes to Colombia -- in Colombia our goods go there and are taxed at a high rate, whereas the Colombian goods come into our country free of charge," said Perino. "We think that that's unfair, and sitting in front of Congress right now is the opportunity to change that. We also are pushing for free trade agreements with South Korea and Panama, and we think that by doing so, we would be able to help create a better job market and also bring in more money into our economy."