The Romney Democrats: A bipartisan coalition backs Mitt's tax policy in the House.

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    Aug 04, 2012 1:26 AM GMT

    You wouldn't know it from the lack of media coverage, but the House of Representatives voted to block a tax increase on Wednesday with a big bipartisan majority. No fewer than 19 Democrats broke with Nancy Pelosi and voted with Republicans to extend the current rates on all taxpayers for another year.

    The bill passed 256-171, despite heavy White House pressure on the Democratic back-benchers to toe the party line. Republicans lost only one Member, who as it happens is leaving Congress this year. Could it be that growth trumps envy on tax policy? Just asking.

    At least a dozen of what we'll call the Romney 19 come from competitive districts. That includes Larry Kissel and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Tim Bishop of New York, Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Jim Matheson in Utah, and Collin Peterson and Tim Walz of Minnesota. This was a vote for political survival for most of them.

    These Democrats had the chance to cover their political bases by voting both for Ms. Pelosi's alternative that would have extended the current tax rates for those making less than $200,000 a year, and then also voting for the GOP alternative as well. But 14 of the 19 also voted thumbs down on the Pelosi substitute, which failed 257-170. They really don't want to vote for a tax increase.

    By the way, the 19 don't generally represent affluent districts. Democrats from wealthy areas like Manhattan, Marin County or Greenwich are all for soaking the rich. Most of the Romney 19 are from middle-class suburbs or rural areas. These include John Barrow of Georgia and Bill Owens of New York, among others. Another tax-cut convert was Joe Donnelly, who is running for Senate in Indiana. His vote for ObamaCare is already damaging enough.

    Explaining his defection from the Obama tax message, Mr. Peterson of Minnesota told The Hill newspaper: "I just am in the camp that we shouldn't be raising taxes right now, with the economy where it is."

    Ditto for Mr. Donnelly: "Given our continued economic challenges, now is the time to keep tax rates low. The last thing our economy can afford is more uncertainty as the fiscal cliff approaches." Perhaps they've been talking to real job creators.

    None of this is likely to deter President Obama from his class-warfare rounds, since he's staked his re-election on it. But the large defection ought to reassure Republicans, and Mitt Romney, that their tax argument stressing growth and reform has political appeal, in addition to its policy merits.

    Holding the economy hostage to a gigantic tax increase amid 8.2% [now 8.3%] unemployment and 1.5% growth is one of the dumbest policy choices in memory, and even many Democrats are figuring out it may be politically even dumber.
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    Aug 04, 2012 4:15 AM GMT
    Not surprised. The real party of "no" doesn't seem to be the Republicans.