House Republican moderates withheld their votes from a $55 billion budget-cutting package last Thursday forcing the GOP leadership to pull the measure. To the great dismay of conservatives nationwide, the leaders had appeased the moderates the day before by stripping from the bill a provision that would have allowed desperately needed oil drilling in a small area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But the appeasement did not work.
In the end, the moderates refused to accept cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and student loans. When it came to passing the President’s $8-trillion Medicare prescription drug plan—the first new entitlement since LBJ’s Great Society days—the Bush White House brutally twisted arms of House conservatives. Where is this effort when spending cuts are the issue?