November 11th, 2008
03:03 PM ET
9 years ago

Sources: Obama pressed Bush for auto industry bailout

Obama and President Bush wave to reporters as they head into the Oval Office on Monday.

Obama and President Bush wave to reporters as they head into the Oval Office on Monday.

(CNN) - At their private Oval Office meeting on Monday, President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush to support billions of dollars in aid for the struggling auto industry during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, according to three officials briefed on the meeting.

The officials said Bush privately expressed skepticism about taxpayer money for automakers on the heels of a string of government bailouts for other industries, and the president also urged Obama to help push through a free trade pact with Colombia – a key legacy item for the outgoing administration that is facing stiff resistance from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

But a senior Bush administration official seemed to downplay suggestions that Bush was offering a quid pro quo by saying the White House still believes the trade deal “deserves to pass on its own merits” without being linked to anything else.

The officials familiar with the meeting said Obama made the case that dramatic action needs to be taken this year – rather than after he is sworn into office – because the Big Three U.S. automakers are bleeding cash at an alarming rate.

One of the officials noted that about one in ten jobs in America are tied to the auto industry, and if one of the companies goes bankrupt it could have a massive spillover effect into the credit industry and other sectors. “The numbers are so staggering,” said the official. “It’s a huge piece of the financial fabric of the country.”

The senior Bush administration official said the White House is “open to ideas from Congress to accelerate funds they’ve already appropriated” to help the auto industry.

But the administration official said support would come “as long as funding will continue to go to viable firms and with strong taxpayer protections” linked to the auto industry aid.

An official in the auto industry told CNN that bringing the Colombian pact into the negotiations could be a poison pill that prevents passage of an auto industry package. But a senior Democratic aide suggested Congress may be willing to call Bush’s bluff and try to pass an auto industry aid package without the trade deal.

The senior aide said Democrats do not believe “this president wants to add the demise of GM to his legacy list.”

soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    If Pres. Bush wants to leave any kind of a legacy, yes he should help the auto industry by creating loans not bail outs and have the auto industries pay them back. Also, He could reallly to something wonderful and free the two border agents that have been wrongfully imprisoned and give them a full pardon. What a wonderful Christmas present for their families.

    November 11, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Why are bailing out companies that have simply blinded themselves to building fuel inefficient cars & SUVs, and rewardint the top officers with huge pay packages. The Japanese have been building some of the best made, fuel efficent cars for years.
    The only thing is big cars just make more for the bottom line.
    When will this stop? No more excuses!

    Also no more for AIG either,, they seem to like to party on the taxpayers dime!!

    November 11, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. Minnesota

    no bailout November 11th, 2008 12:36 pm ET

    Why should be give auto makers money to make more huge gas guzzlers that no one wants to buy anymore since that's all they know how to do? Really, liberals? This is what you want? What about the environment?
    Seems like these auto makers would finally have an incentive to build hybrids and other fuel efficient cars if the only way they could get money is to actually sell something people want
    Have you not been paying attention??? Seriously?!?! Obama's plan is to bail out the auto industry but with one main rule.... that they have to be building fuel efficient cars. So us "liberals" are all ovewr this. Turn your thinker on and start reading about his plans before you prematurely blast on him.

    November 11, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Robin in SC

    Bailing out a manufacturing industry is not like bailing out a service industry, i.e. the financial industry. Wall Street barely disquised their unregulated theft of Main Street money to pay for bonuses and executive retirement packages, spa retreats and inflated commissions. Union demands no doubt have contributed to the fall of auto makers, but the big ax is from the economy...folks can't afford to buy new cars and if they can, they don't because of economic fears. The government bailed out the airline industry long ago to save jobs and created jobs in the process with the regulation that went with the bailout. I say help the auto makers out, but make sure they tow the line and develop alternative fuel vehicles, create jobs, and contribute to turning the economy around in a big way.

    November 11, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Steve-O

    Seven days and as much, if not more blunders from the incoming POTUS and his lacheys. Thanks to all of the uninformed voters, we are now going to be "RULED" upon by an uninformed President. The leaks are a foreshadowing of problems on the horizon. The world economic market is rebounding, but speculators within our country are already giving up because change will not be for the better, except for the special interests of the liberal side. We need to demand a recount and eliminate the votes of those that were not qualified or were verified by unscrupulous means. I was registered to vote in a state that I left 14 years ago. I want to know if a vote was cast using my identity. We need to find out if this man is a legitimate winner or someone that stole not only his party's nomination, but also the general election. I voted for a loser, but not the one moving in to the White House.

    November 11, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Anita of georgia

    For those of you that think the auto Industry should'nt be bailout. You are not giving these companies anything. They are indebted to pay all these monies back, this bailout is not free. Like all these other businesses that are bailout, they will not be looking for a bonus, from off the top of the taxpayers money either. If they think enough of their employees to pay them a decent wage to take care of their families, not like most companies. This company will definitely pay the taxpayers back for the money entrusted to them.

    November 11, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. larry wi

    Way to go NObama team! Like a bunch of little sissy HS girls. This is what we are in for people!!!

    Tue Nov 11 2008 09:28:10 ET

    Just hours after President Bush and President-elect Obama met in the Oval Office of the White House, details of their confidential conversation began leaking out to the press, igniting anger from the president, sources claim.

    "Senator Obama would be wise to keep close counsel," a top Bush source warned

    November 11, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Tommy

    Well as crazy and hard as it may seem. Its true if we dont help these companies than a lot of people will lose there jobs. Its not pretty nor is it fair. I mean I am in the mortgage business and I know several people in financial area who has lost their jobs because of this. If the car industry goes down. Trust me it will be really bad. The economy is really bad right now cause people are losing jobs and their is no confidence with the consumer so people are not spending money. Its econ 101 no jobs=no money being spendt=weak econonmy. We have to create jobs some kind of way and preserve the ones that are out there.

    November 11, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. NOVA

    I could care less. I still roll around in my Infiniti regardless.

    November 11, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. Linda B

    Who was the dufus that leaked this info? Wasn't their meeting yesterday to have been confidential?

    November 11, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Allan

    I am astonished at how foolish some people are. They lose an election and suddenly are against every single thing that smells like what the Republicans pushed through. As I recall, it was Paulson, not Obama, who insisted it was necessary to commit 700 billion to the bailout. Sure, Obama was the statesman when he and McCain went to the White House meeting, but it doesn't change fact. Then Palin screeched that Obama is the Socialist! What should happen now is that someone needs to keep an eye on how that huge amount of money is actually being used. So far, it doesn't seem to have been used wisely!

    November 11, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Coultergeist

    If anyone deserves to be bailed out it's not the CEO's of these financial companies who take OUR money and spend it on spa weekends, it's the hardworking people who make our cars and who are part of a 100 year old US institution. GM and Ford cars have shown a lot of improvement quality-wise, as well as a desire to produce more fuel efficient vehicles. Give them a chance to get back on their feet and make good quality cars, and in a few years American auto makers will be back on top.

    November 11, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. No More Barry

    Barry is a joke and there will be 65 million regrets come inauguration day. He cant even keep his mouth shut and keep White House tradition. he MUST be voted out in 2012!!!!

    America, VOTE OUT OBAMA in 2012 !!!!

    November 11, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Steve, Jacksonville, Fl

    Free trade with Colombia? Great idea Bushie. You/ve destroyed jobs in the US, why not Colombia as well? The only difference is Colombia uses violence to force workers to accept substandard wages whereas here in the US we use the threat of unemployment. It's the WalMart mentality. Watch for falling prices! (and declining wages). We all have a stake in the Auto industry bailout whether we like it or not. I didn't hear Americans complaining when they were flocking to dealerships to buy gas guzzling SUV's that we probably couldn't afford.

    November 11, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Minnesota

    There are an awful lot of people in this ticker that just don't get it!!! If these auto companies go under so do all the jobs that come with them. We are trying to dig ourselves out of a mess created by an idealistic administration and his cohorts in Congress over the past 8 years. The last thing that we should be doing is eliminating even more jobs. Especially jobs that pay well. The ripple effect would be felt for 4 or 5 years longer than is necessary if we lose this industry.

    November 11, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Robert

    That's right people; let the US automakers fail so the Japanese can own us once again. I don't like the bailout, but I say give it to them with a long list of restrictions and requirements such as producing hybrids.

    November 11, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. zack morehart

    i do not agree with a bailout of the auto industry due for a the reason of the moving of jobs out of this country by the auto industry why dont they ask these other goverments for bailouts because they will just take more jobs out of this country so they have better profits thank you

    November 11, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Joe

    How stupid are the people on this blog. You have to bail out the auto industry for a variety of reasons and here is why.

    First if you don't then you lose jobs in every sector of manufacturing. Steel, textiles, rubber, plastic not to mention 1.7 Million Americans are out of a job.

    So that doesn't sound bad right? Oh wait I forgot to mention that it would get worse. With the big 3 out of the way Honda, Toyota, Hyundaii, would be able to charge what they wanted for a Car. Who is to stop them from charging 100k US just for a Camry? And yes we would have to pay for it because THERE IS NO AMERICAN EQUIVLIENT.

    Also if the big 3 go under you can forget about supplying vehicles to the US military. Guess what that is tied together as well.

    So sure let the big 3 fail and this entire country will be a bankrupt 3 world country overnight.

    November 11, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Brenda C

    I knew Presedent Bush should have taped this meeting with obama. obama is such a liar. Seems obama doesn't know what confidential means. I hope they don't give him real defense briefings. Give him something that makes him feel good for now. Wait till you're out of office please President Bush. I guess you've figured out obama is to immature to keep things confidential.

    November 11, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Setys

    All I know is that the President-elect Barack Obama will be one of the greatest presidents ever in the history of United States.

    In six months time, things will be changing for the better, economy will improve, President elect Obama will be very successful in ruling USA, and the country again will regain its glory.

    Many nations in the world will also help this country out to achieve its success.

    So, Americans unite together behind President elect Barack Obama to achieve this goal.

    November 11, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. Jan

    what an "ungracious" moron " is Obama. And arrogant as well. Does he not know protocol? this was a confidential meeting between Presidents? The problem is, the press gave him 90% (except for fox) approval rating and he will use that for all it is worth. Heaven help us. I have a Mazda.

    November 11, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. Sabuc in Atlanta

    A key legacy item for the outgoing administration? That legacy ship has sailed, imploded, and sunk. Nothing can be done in the last few months to dress up that piece of dung that is the W legacy!

    November 11, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. bj

    The US automakers have been hamstrung for years by the labor unions that have made them non-competitive. If we bail out the Auto Makers we should also throw out the unions so that the auto makeers can be competitive.

    November 11, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  24. Youtubby

    I agree with those who say no bailout for the auto industry. Enough with the bailouts already !!!! Let the auto industry go and take a loan from the banks. Isnt that what the bailout money to the banks was for? Enough of this already !!! And to the one who is shouting "buy american", we will buy american if those cars werent so crappy. They dont last and they are unreliable cars. So maybe if these auto makers start making good quality cars, they will make money. Simple.

    November 11, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. california

    Obama had sugested using money from the original 700 billion dollar bailout and redirecting some of it to the auto industry. not a whole new bailout. and they would get the bailout with condition to make fuel efficient and electric vehicles. i think this is a good idea. if we let them go under then our problems will be much much bigger and we'll only be buying foreign. i have no problem with foreign cars but why buy something from someone else that we can make ourselves. you dont think they'll hike up the prices if the american competition is gone?

    November 11, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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