Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- President Obama is escalating his class-warfare attacks on the Republicans for opposing his plan to let the Bush-era upper-income tax cuts expire at the end of this year.

Only it isn't just Republicans he's battling against on this central economic issue in the midterm elections, but a growing rebellion in his own party on Capitol Hill, where fellow Democrats are siding with the GOP.

This increasingly bitter intra-party split over a pivotal economic growth and jobs issue hasn't been getting any serious attention on the nightly network news -- and the White House pretends it doesn't even exist. But it is an embarrassing political weakness in Obama's naive argument that ending George W. Bush's top tax-rate cuts on small businesses, investors and anyone making more than $250,000 a year won't hurt a weakened economy and kill job creation.

A growing number of House and Senate Democrats, and other party candidates seeking open seats in Congress, say that this is no time to be raising taxes on anyone, and they will vote to temporarily extend the tax cuts for all tax brackets, including the wealthiest, until the economy recovers.

A letter drafted by four insurgent Democrats suggesting just that was being circulated in the House this week to build party opposition to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's income tax hike plans, and the early word is that they are attracting signatures on it.

"We believe in times of economic recovery it makes good sense to maintain things as they are in the short-term, to provide families and businesses the certainty required to plan and make sound budget decisions," their letter states.

Its authors: Democrat Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah, Glenn Nye of Virginia, Melissa Bean of Illinois and Gary Peters of Michigan.

Peters, who represents a traditionally Republican district in the Detroit suburbs, says that extending the top tax rate cuts "is the right thing to do, as anything less jeopardizes economic recovery"

These Democrats have a lot of company. Perhaps more than two-dozen House and Senate Democrats agree with them, according to my count, and that number is expected to rise in the days to come.

In Connecticut, Democrat Rep. Jim Himes says that making more than $250,000 a year, especially as a small business, "does not make you really rich."

In Florida, Democrat Rep. Ron Klein thinks a one-year extension of the top tax rate cuts is critical in a jobless recovery because "our top economic priority has to be job creation."

In Arizona, Democrat Harry Mitchell strongly opposes the Obama, Pelosi and Harry Reid tax increases, saying, "we need to encourage investment, not discourage it."


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.