It took an all-out effort by the White House, Democratic leaders, and liberal groups to kill a bipartisan deficit-reduction package by six votes in the House on Nov. 22. And the message of the vote, on which 57 Democrats broke with their leadership, is that the day of real spending cuts may be drawing near.
The most worrisome development for the Democratic Establishment is the behavior of newer members. Forty of the Democrats who voted for the measure sponsored by Representatives Timothy J. Penny (D-Minn.) and John R. Kasich (R-Ohio) have come to Congress since 1988. "The new generation has sent a message," says Penny. Future battles could include votes on a balanced-budget constitutional amendment and the line-item veto. Next time around, all the arm-twisting in the world might not be enough to stop the deficit-busters.