The Rage on the Left Is Just Beginning

If you are a right-winger who does not like President Obama and calls his policies “socialist,” you’ve got to hear what is going on among America’s left-wingers.

In fact, you can even read it for yourself in The New York Times. Left-wing columnist Maureen Dowd has written several columns dripping with contempt for Obama since he struck a deal with Republicans to cut spending but chose not to increase taxes in order to lower our nation's debt.

And Paul Krugman the Nobel Prize-winning economist has long complained in his New York Times columns that the president displayed weakness by not insisting on a larger stimulus package – even as the right wing has condemned the stimulus as a waste of money and a failure for not lowering the unemployment rate.

And now Professor Drew Westen, in an essay in the New York Times magazines, writes that the Democrat in the White House is failing to respond to right-wing bullying instigated by the rich who have created the “greatest levels of economic inequality and the there greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression…”

The anger coming at President Obama from the left is being fueled by polls that show most Americans, and even the majority of Republicans, think the president should have insisted on having the rich pay more taxes as part of any deal on raising the debt ceiling.

According to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, half of the American people said the debt-ceiling agreement should have included a tax revenue increase, while 44 percent said it should have relied on only spending cuts.

Sixty-three percent of those polled said that they supported raising taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year, like President Obama wanted to do. This includes 80 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans.

Consider that the wealthiest 400 Americans have more money than the bottom 150 million combined and the rich are still paying the lowest tax rates since the 1950s.

The classes in America are becoming ever more stratified. Fewer people are able to move out of poverty in to the middle class while a great and growing number are falling out of the middle class into poverty. A failing public education system, less financial assistance for a college education and the crippling cost of health care are all factors that have made upward mobility for the working class even more difficult.

Last year, corporations like General Electric and ExxonMobil paid no taxes because of the loopholes embedded in the tax code.

And yet the president was defeated by charges of engaging in “class warfare,” and failed to build a narrative in which he pointed out the excesses of Wall Street and corporations who now enjoy record levels of profit but are not providing jobs to Americans.

In his essay Professor Westen wrote that President Obama “diluted [the stimulus] with tax cuts [40 percent of the stimulus] that had already been shown to be inert.” He said the president also lacked spine by extending the Bush tax cuts and allowing the Republicans to force him to cut spending as part of the debt ceiling deal at a time when the economy needs government spending to boost investor and consumer confidence.

Westen’s essay prompted an outpouring of angst in Letters to the Editor. One writer said the president has “just not been tough enough to confront the myriad transgressions of the Congressional Republicans.” Another letter to the paper said Westen’s article “struck a nerve,” and “I’m fed up with (the president’s} inability to stick up for the lofty goals he articulated,” when he was running for office.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a real Socialist, has joined the president’s Democratic critics by calling for a left-wing challenger to mount a challenge to Obama in the upcoming Democratic primaries.

Leading congressional Democrats are so furious with the deal the president struck with Republicans on the debt that they now regularly speak of the once esteemed president as a “disappointment” and “mistake.”

President Obama began this debt ceiling fight by insisting that revenue increases would have to be part of the final package. His proposals -- like eliminating a loophole for corporate jet owners -- were so modest they upset progressives tired of his chronic capitulation.

We have not heard the last of the tax issue. Congressional leaders have selected a special 12-member committee to make recommendations to reduce the deficit.

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have ensured that this committee will be a dishonest exercise with little chance of reducing the deficit fairly and effectively. They did this by appointing six members who have signed a Tax Payer Protection Pledge that forbids them from considering raising any taxes.

It wasn’t as though leadership had a deep bench to choose from as all but 13 congressional Republicans have signed the restrictive pledge.  In other words, the 6 Republicans on the super-committee have pledged to not do the one thing that is necessary to reduce the deficit and bring some semblance of balance to the budget that is by raising taxes on the wealthy.

The rage on the left is just beginning and it is spreading to the political center. The only question is who represents the left and center these days.

Juan Williamsis a writer, author and Fox News political analyst. His most recent book is "Muzzled: The Assault On Honest Debate" (Crown/Random House).