[This is a companion editorial to ]

While GOP House leader Tom DeLay, who faces his own legal and ethics problems, pontificated on saving Terri Schiavo and George W. lectured about a “culture of life,” their actions spoke louder than their hollow words.

Bush put forward a $2.6 trillion budget that would cut as much as $20 billion from Medicaid, the primary federal health program for the poor, children and disabled people. The House narrowly passed it with DeLay’s “Hammer” tactics.

These new cuts come on top of years of previous cuts, which have forced hundreds of thousands of people off the government program. States, facing severe fiscal crisis from the federal cuts, are throwing the most needy off their life-sustaining health care services. Last month this newspaper ran a front-page photo of an 8-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis who will lose the aid from a state health program that helps pay for his treatment, because of federal and state budget cuts. Some “culture of life”!

But in a noteworthy development, the Senate rejected the Bush Medicaid reduction by a 52-48 vote. Seven Republican senators joined all 44 Senate Democrats and one independent to block the cuts. Add that vote to the Republican discomfort Social Security privatization and you have what GOP big shots may call a rebellion in the ranks.

What better way to muffle a moderates’ mutiny then to mobilize your extreme right flank? Get those “terror squads” operating, orders Karl Rove. Rev up the propaganda machines, he barks, get that Schiavo case front and center.

We need to strike fear into the heart of these mutineers. Our whole agenda may be on the line, Rove snarls.

Actions do speak louder than words.