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Top 5 Stories
Senate Leaders Unveil Package of Tax Cuts
Tax Deal's Prospects Dicey in House
Ford Joins GM, Chrysler in Hiring More Workers
Ford, Honda Tops in U.S. Customer Retention; Kia Rising Fast
BMW Set to Remain Biggest Premium Car Maker
Top 5 Stories
Senate Leaders Unveil Package of Tax Cuts

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders on Thursday evening formally unveiled the huge tax cut package worked out between the White House and Republicans and immediately began debating it, while House Democrats rebelled against President Obama and threatened to keep the measure from ever reaching the floor. A procedural vote was scheduled in the Senate for Monday evening to overcome a filibuster by Democrats opposed to the plan. The strongest opposition in the House was to the estate tax provision, which would set an exemption of $5 million per person and a top rate of 35 percent — a higher exemption and lower rate than many Democrats want.
Source: The New York Times

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Tax Deal's Prospects Dicey in House

A compromise to extend expiring tax cuts is likely to come out of the Senate relatively unchanged, but a sterner challenge awaits in the House. After days of fielding complaints from fellow Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pressed forward with tax legislation that closely tracks with a controversial “framework” agreement President Obama forged with Republicans. The measure — which would extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts — should overcome any opposition in the Senate next week. But House Democrats are pressing for substantial changes to the package — especially its treatment of the estate tax — that could threaten GOP support. House Democrats vented their frustration Thursday by approving a caucus resolution that urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., not to bring the deal to the floor. Although the caucus measure is nonbinding, it suggests there is plenty of partisan wrangling ahead.
Source: Congressional Quarterly

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Ford Joins GM, Chrysler in Hiring More Workers

Ford is the latest U.S. automaker to hire hundreds of workers as the economy picks up and auto sales improve. At an announcement in front of workers in its Louisville Assembly Plant, Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.'s president of the Americas, said the factory plans to hire 1,800 more employees - or nearly 5 percent of Ford's current U.S. work force - to build a new version of the Ford Escape small SUV. Ford plans to keep making the current version of the Escape at a plant outside Kansas City, Mo., until production moves to Louisville. The company hasn't announced a future product for the Missouri plant.
Source: The Associated Press

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Ford, Honda Tops in U.S. Customer Retention; Kia Rising Fast

Brand loyalty survey finds that 'fun' is becoming more important

Ford and Honda have vaulted past Mercedes-Benz to tie for the highest customer retention rate among automotive brands in the United States this year, according to a new study. The two mass-market brands retained 62 percent of buyers this year, J.D. Power and Associates said in its annual Customer Retention Study released (Thursday). “Last year we saw that resale value was important, consumers were a little bit more tight with their money, so that led to people staying with their brand” (Raffi Festekjian, director of automotive product research at J.D. Power and Associates) said. “Now we're seeing a shift in people who are interested in going back to some of the fundamentals of styling.”
Source: Automotive News

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BMW Set to Remain Biggest Premium Car Maker

FRANKFURT—BMW AG appears on track to retain its crown as the world's best-selling luxury car maker this year after its core brand posted a 20% rise in sales to 108,187 cars in November, fueled by a growing number of affluent Chinese customers and a recovery of the U.S. market. "We ... were able to expand our market share world-wide," BMW sales chief Ian Robertson said in a statement, noting that the company continues "to aim for a good balance between our sales in Europe, the Americas and Asia." The main growth drivers at BMW last month were the new generation 5-series, the X1 small sports-utility-vehicle and the larger X5 SUV.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Quotable
 
“Consumers are shifting now to where they want it all. They want the vehicles to be fun to drive and maybe aren't thinking of it so much as a vehicle to get me from point A to point B.”

    -- Raffi Festekjian, director of automotive product research at J.D. Power and Associates, on its annual Customer Retention Study released Thursday, Automotive News, Dec. 9

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