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Top 5 Stories
Huge Senate Majority Votes to Advance $858B Tax Package
House Dems Focusing on an Amendment to the Estate Tax Provision
1st Chevy Volts Leave Detroit-Hamtramck Plant and Head to Dealers
NADA UCG: Dealers Find Ways to Leverage Consumer Demand for Older Models
Russian Billionaire Ventures Into Hybrid Cars
Top 5 Stories
Huge Senate Majority Votes to Advance $858B Tax Package

President Obama's $858 billion tax package won a huge bipartisan majority in the Senate Monday evening, setting it up for a contentious debate in the House. In a 83-15 vote, the Senate quashed a filibuster by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). A vote on final passage could happen as soon as Tuesday if opponents agree to waive the 30 hours that must elapse after a vote to end a filibuster. Given Monday’s lopsided vote, the package is expected to win final passage easily, which one Democratic leadership aide predicted would “likely” happen on Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) were in the midst of negotiating an agreement to allow Democrats and Republicans to offer a few amendments to the package.
Source: The Hill

Editor's Note: Now that the tax compromise has overcome a procedural hurdle by a vast majority (due in part to dealers' grassroots activity in urging senators to support the measure) the package will be considered by the full Senate, which may seek to amend it. Changes are not expected to be significant, according to NADA Legislative Affairs.

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House Dems Focusing on an Amendment to the Estate Tax Provision

House Democratic efforts to change the tax deal struck by President Obama and congressional Republicans are focusing on an amendment to the estate tax provision, according to senior party sources familiar with a Monday leadership meeting. But it's not clear that the proposed amendment, which the House passed as a stand-alone bill a year ago, would attract the support needed for adoption. The House estate tax proposal, originally written by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), would apply a 45 percent levy to wealth over $3.5 million. Moderate and conservative Democrats voted for the Pomeroy version of the estate tax cut last December — with opposition coming from the liberal wing of the party. That means that it may be a poor guidepost for how Democrats would vote on the same proposal matched up against the Kyl version. It could be a very close vote.
Source: Politico

Editor's Note: According to NADA Legislative Affairs, after the Senate passes the tax bill House members may attempt to modify the estate tax provision in the package on the House floor. With Senate Republicans intent on supporting the deal already agreed upon, the Senate may not accept House alterations. NADA supports the Senate estate tax provision as currently written, which will help family businesses continue by setting the tax at 35 percent with a $5 million per-spouse exemption. NADA Legislative Affairs will keep dealers up to date on developments to this tax package.

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1st Chevy Volts Leave Detroit-Hamtramck Plant and Head to Dealers

Windshields were scraped of snow, wheels were strapped into place and 45 Chevrolet Volt electric cars left for East Coast dealerships Monday. GM said it expected 160 Volts to ship this week to initial launch markets, which also include Austin, Texas, and the state of California. The first Nissan Leaf, a pure electric car and Volt rival, was delivered to a customer last weekend -- kicking off the sale of electric cars for the mass market.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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NADA UCG: Dealers Find Ways to Leverage Consumer Demand for Older Models

Thanks in large part to the ever-improving quality many brands have shown over the years, dealers are apparently witnessing more of a consumer appetite for older models that traditionally might have been sent to auction. And especially while volumes of late-model vehicles remain down in the lanes, NADA Used Car Guide's Jonathan Banks says that selling older models is a growing opportunity for dealers. Recognizing the shift in consumer perception and demand, Banks said he is seeing that dealers are increasingly retaining older units acquired via trade to retail in lieu of sending them to auction.
Source: AutoRemarketing

Editor's Note: For more analysis from the NADA Guide book, click here to read the December issue of "Guidelines," a monthly industry update.

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Russian Billionaire Ventures Into Hybrid Cars

MOSCOW—As if trying to turn around the New Jersey Nets basketball team weren't enough, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is now taking on another seemingly impossible task: building a $10,000 hybrid car with international appeal—in Russia. Mr. Prokhorov said he intends to "break the stereotype saying Russia can't produce good cars," even though an executive needed three attempts to successfully start the prototype car with a mobile phone using a remote-start feature. Mr. Prokhorov's hope is that by 2012 Russia will produce 10,000 cars in the "yo" series, a relatively small amount equal to about 0.5% of Russia's 2010 new car sales.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Quotable
 
"We now urge the House leadership to bring this bipartisan agreement to a vote without political games or partisan changes designed only to block this bill’s passage in the House."

    -- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who warned Monday that House Democrats would cause tax rates to go up across the board if they tampered with the bipartisan tax compromise, The Hill, Dec. 13

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