Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), another prime target for Republicans in November, said the recession makes raising taxes a dicey proposition. "The economy has by no means fully recovered, so my bias is that those high-end tax cuts should be extended," he told the Connecticut Mirror. Himes is a freshman Democrat who represents affluent Fairfield County in Connecticut. He narrowly defeated Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) in 2008 and is locked in a tight race to defend his southwest Connecticut seat this year.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.),who represents an affluent suburban district in Virginia, told NPR that the Democrats' willingness to raise taxes on wealthy Americans could hurt them in November. In 2008, 47 of the country's 59 most well-off districts voted for Obama.

"They're our voters, and the more some of my colleagues who represent some of those districts fully appreciate who we're talking about, perhaps that will give them pause to consider, I think a reasonable proposition, which is, don't allow those tax cuts to expire at this time," Connolly said.

In addition to the sitting members of Congress queasy about casting a vote on the issue, several Democratic candidates, including Jack Conway in Kentucky, Robin Carnahan in Missouri and Alex Sink in Florida, have said they would break with the president on the issue, saying they want the Bush cuts extended for all taxpayers, even the wealthiest, until the recession is over.

That position has not been well received in Democratic circles. Not only did the the president renew his call for ending the cuts for the wealthiest Americans on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also rejected moderates' argument that a tax hike on people making more than $250,000 would hurt the economy.

"There is not anybody in this country . . . that takes home half a million dollars a year that is delaying their purchasing decisions, OK?" Gibbs quipped during his Thursday press briefing. "The consumer demand is not impeded by the millionaire that can't make ends meet."

With the split in the party growing, talk among Democrats in Congress is narrowing in on how to find a compromise that could garner 60 votes in the Senate, which would require support from all Democrats and at least one Republican. Temporarily extending all of the tax cuts for one or two years seems to be the path that most Democrats say they could live with, but getting a vote on anything related to the issue before the November elections seems less likely every day.

Reagan LaChapelle, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said a vote on extending at least some the Bush tax cuts is on a list of items her boss would like to bring up before the elections, but she could not guarantee a vote before November. "It's on the list, but we'll have to see what the Republicans are willing to let us do," she said.