Because Republicans are not helping Democrats to finance the Democratic budget with Democratic taxes, The Post concludes Republicans are playing "a shabby game" {editorial, Oct. 9}.

The fact that The Post's enthusiasm for new taxes is not shared by the public (ask Walter Mondale) is less important now than the question of how tax policy fits into overall fiscal policy, or the question of legislative responsibility for those policies.

Ever since the budget act was passed, House Republicans have tried to be players in the grand scene. Their reward has been to see their budgets rejected by a supermajority of Democrats appointed to the Budget Committee. Presidents have fared no better. Their budgets have been considered, explicitly or implicitly, dead on arrival.

This year Republicans indicated early in the process that they believed tax increases were neither the best nor the only way to reduce the deficit. House Democrats yawned and passed their budget with $19 billion in new taxes. Along with those new taxes went new spending, of which huge increases in welfare benefits were one element.

It is now about three weeks into the new fiscal year, and the Democrats have been unwilling or unable to pass the reconciliation bill required by their budget. Reconciliation demands, even in the free-spending Democratic budget, a few modest spending reductions and either the $19 billion or the new request for $12 billion in increased taxes.

In the interim, Congress has passed a new Gramm-Rudman-Hollings trigger. The Post says it implies a $12 billion tax increase. I sat through all the conference committee meetings and never heard a single mention of whether the new GRH targets would be achieved by spending reductions or tax increases.

The $12 billion tax figure came not from the conference and not from the law. It came later from House Democrats. They computed that about half the required GRH "savings" for the new fiscal year would come from changing the definition of the base line, and that the other half, about $12 billion, would come from new taxes.

They then called on House Republicans to help them pass their new taxes. Republicans said they wanted to see some spending cuts first. Democrats are again -- or still -- unwilling to make spending reductions of real substance. Stuck passing an unpopular tax bill by themselves, they are now saying that Republicans have a responsibility to help.

The situation now is not complicated. The Democratic-led Congress has not been able to pass even one of its 14 appropriations bills. It has not passed a reconciliation bill. It suspects it can't pass its tax program. The Republican minority didn't do it. Neither did the butler. The Democrats did it to themselves.

House Republicans in general have been clear and unambiguous in their opposition to new taxes unless significant, permanent spending cuts are adopted. Those of us who helped the Democrats pass tax bills in 1982 and 1984 believe that getting burned twice is enough. Those new taxes were spent away, and the deficits endured.

If the Democrats need help, they know how to ask for it. They must cut spending, and not by only the token $4 billion suggested by The Post. And because taxes are forever, and spending cuts last only until the next supplemental, the duration of each should be equalized.

Democrats have clear majorities in both houses. They may ask that Republicans vote for the taxes to finance their budget and their new spending. They should not be surprised if Republicans, whose budget suggestions have been summarily rejected for years, decline the invitation.

New taxes are not the only option. Should the Democrats not pass a tax bill, or should the president veto the bill, the sequestration under the new trigger would be a modest one. The new base-line definition achieves half the savings without changing spending at all.

Gramm-Rudman-Hollings was purposely structured to deliver moderate, relatively painless sequestrations in the first two years. Spending reductions through sequestration will make future GRH targets easier to reach. Either by sequestration or by an unlikely outbreak of courage, Congress does have other choices than new taxes. The writer is a Republican representative from Minnesota and a member of the Ways and Means Committee.