Minority Leader John Rhodes and his fellow House Republicans are upset. They think the Democrats have back.

Democrats, the Arizonan complained yesterday, have been "voting liberal and talking conservative." And getting away with it.

Now, in the wake of Proposition 13, Rhodes and company want it known that the Republicans are the original tax-cutting, anti-spending friends of the people. As a help to the public, Rhodes unveiled a book entitled, "Can You Afford This House?" Its 25 chapters, written by 25 House Republicans, conclude that you can't - because of the Democrats.

Under titles such as "The Imperial Congress," "The Price Is Wrong" and "The Abuses of the Majority: How the Democrats and Labor Chieftains Run the Congress," the Republicans tell why.

"It describes not only how our taxes are being ripped off and wasted, but also how the Democratic Congress is responsible for the encroachment of government into virtually every aspect of our affairs." Rhodes said at a press conference.

"We Republicans . . . have known for a long time what the people of this country really want: lower, not higher, government spending and taxes," said Louisiana Rep. David Treen, who "edited" the book.

At the outset, Rhodes predicted "massive" election turnovers in November, maybe even 50 seats. Then he thought better. Complaining about Democratic adaptability and about Republican inability to "identify the failures of government with a Democratic Party," he said he'd be disappointed if it were no more than 25 to 30.

As for getting the campaign book into the hands of the voters, the Republicans, mindful that at least some taxpayers seem in a stingy mood, have decided to buy up the books themselves, at $2.95 a copy, and distribute them free of charge.