The prospects for passage of a major deficit-reduction package seriously deteriorated yesterday as the congressional revolt over the budget agreement spread to House Democrats who are upset over the pact's tax and Medicare provisions.

Last night, worried House Democratic leaders were considering postponement of the first test vote on the agreement, which is scheduled today. Vote counts in the House showed each party falling short of a majority of its members ready to support a budget resolution that would set out the broad spending totals agreed to by White House and congressional negotiators on Sunday, according to leadership aides in both parties.

The Democrats have insisted that a majority of GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate vote for the deal as the price of their support for the five-year, $500 billion package of tax increases and spending cuts.

A White House official said the administration has been in regular touch with the Democrats about whether to hold the vote as scheduled. "We're sure if we don't have the votes, we're not going to do it," one official said.

The congressional revolt against the agreement took place amid intense maneuvering to try to change aspects of the package and mounting evidence of public resistance to many of its provisions. The package includes such politically painful measures as tax increases on beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes and gasoline, and spending cuts in numerous popular programs.

Defeat in the House today of a budget resolution to begin implementing the agreement could again threaten the government with the prospect of a shutdown. To keep the government funded, Congress must pass a stopgap spending measure by midnight Friday. But President Bush has threatened to veto the temporary spending legislation unless Congress is also moving by then toward implementation of the deficit-reduction accord.

House Democratic leaders had delayed the first budget vote until today to give Bush time to deliver a nationally televised address Tuesday night and to speak with House Republicans in hopes of solidifying their support. But the interval appears to have had the opposite effect, allowing opponents of the deal to mobilize.

Upon hearing the latest vote counts, the White House intensified its last-minute lobbying blitz last night. "This is breaking against us," said an administration official.

Bush and many top administration officials spent hours yesterday trying to persuade House Republicans to support the budget plan. Bush met with two groups of GOP House members at the White House and telephoned or met individually with 20 others. The president also canceled a five-day trip to New England, including two days of campaigning for GOP candidates, to continue the effort. He invited about 30 House Republicans to the White House for coffee at 9 a.m. today.

Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney, a former House GOP whip, was enlisted to tell GOP conservatives that the military spending level was better than expected. Vice President Quayle went to the Capitol to work on his fellow conservatives and former Senate colleagues.

Former presidents Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan also appeared to have been drafted into Bush's effort. In a statement issued from Rancho Mirage, Calif., Ford said, "I wholeheartedly support the budget compromise." Reagan, a longtime opponent of tax increases, said through a spokesman in Los Angeles that the agreement "seems worthy of support." He added that all parties should move quickly for budget reform "to avoid the need for any more such 11th-hour situations."

Even as his vote-gathering efforts were faltering, Bush continued his personal lobbying, traveling last night to a fund-raising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign group for House Republicans. Earlier in the day, he helped raise money for Michigan GOP candidates, including Rep. Bill Schuette, the Republican challenger to Sen. Carl Levin (D) who has been sharply critical of the package.

Tuesday night's television appeal for public support by Bush and Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) appeared to be having little effect on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers reported that telephone calls to their offices were still running heavily against many provisions, especially savings from Medicare and higher taxes on gasoline, beer and wine. "The president told them to call," said one northeastern Democratic lawmaker. "They called all right -- I got 100 calls today. Only five or six were for it."

"It was the weakest presidential address and the worst Democratic response I have ever seen on television," said Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.).

Asked if the president's address had swayed him, Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), who said he is leaning against the deal, said: "Nope, nope."

"We are losing some of the moderate Republicans we shouldn't be losing," an administration official said. "They think the Democrats are going to do 'em in on the details. . . . You can't use the president to convince them the Democrats are good guys."

The package did get some important backing yesterday when Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told a House Government Operations subcommittee that the agreement appeared to be "credible and enforceable." One goal of the budget deal is to persuade the Federal Reserve to ease interest rates.

At a closed-door meeting of House Democrats yesterday morning, lawmakers complained to their leaders, including House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.), about many provisions in the agreement. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) called the deal's package of tax breaks for investments in small businesses "a bunch of junk," lawmakers recalled.

"We're making available for the very wealthy an opportunity to shelter income," Rostenkowski told reporters outside the meeting. "We'll see more shelters, more tax evasion in the future than we did before 1986," when Congress overhauled federal tax laws.

"What the summit package has done is just muck up the {tax} code again," he said. "I just don't want to be a participant in that."

Rostenkowski, one of the president's closest friends in Congress, said he wanted to see how much latitude he would have in altering the tax component of the deal before he decided how to vote.

Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health, said he would ignore the budget agreement's provision to increase beneficiaries' premiums on the voluntary Medicare program that covers physicians and outpatient hospital procedures. He said he will instead seek to raise the amount of annual income subject to the 1.45 percent Medicare payroll tax from $51,300 to $150,000. The budget summit agreed to raise that amount to $73,000.

To assuage concerns, Democratic leaders have been stressing they would be able to change the plan's details. But the pact says the original negotiators would review implementing legislation "to assure its consistency with the Budget Summit Agreement."

"One of the great unknowns is who will be able to interpret what is a violation of the spirit of the agreement," said Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.).

Some Democrats worried that meant that White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu and Office of Management and Budget Director Richard G. Darman could exercise a veto over changes in the package. "I really don't care what Darman and Sununu say," Stark said. "They have an excellent record of being harmful to the poor and elderly."

At a luncheon with reporters, Darman said the administration would not oppose changes "within a reasonable band. . . . We'll use this as a reference point and apply some rule of reason."

Democrats on both sides of the Capitol were troubled further by studies from the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation and the House Ways and Means Committee showing that the tax increases and benefit cuts hit harder at the poor than the rich.

"These people didn't create the deficit," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.). "I don't think they should carry the burden of the deficit in lieu of the upper incomes."

Staff writers Ann Devroy, Tom Kenworthy and Steven Mufson contributed to this report.

Congress will consider a budget resolution that incorporates the spending targets set by congressional and administration negotiators last weekend. The resolution would direct congressional committees to implement the tax increases and benefit program cuts specified in the weekend accord. The president does not have to sign a budget resolution. ALSO THIS WEEK . . .

Congress will take up a separate stopgap funding bill so that the government does not shut down at midnight Friday. The stopgap measure would also push back automatic across-the-board spending cuts from midnight Friday to midnight Oct. 19. President Bush has said he will not sign such a bill unless a budget resolution has been passed.BY OCT. 12 . . .

The various congressional committees will have to approve legislation that produces the savings specified in the budget agreement. BY OCT. 19 . . .

The pieces of legislation would be combined into a single bill, called a "reconciliation bill," that must receive final congressional approval by Oct. 19. The measure would also include language cancelling this year's automatic across-the-board spending cuts.

Meanwhile, the appropriations committees must consider the 13 spending bills that fund the government. The spending measures must conform to the budget resolution and be given final congressional approval by Oct. 19.