An influential group of House Democrats yesterday suggested elements of a possible congressional budget initiative as Senate Republican leaders began sifting through a 12-page list of options for changes in President Reagan's controversial budget.
But a congressional consensus appeared far from imminent as Reagan prepared to meet today with the 53 Senate Republicans about his deepening difficulties with Congress over the budget and El Salvador.
"Let it a budget compromise cook very slowly," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) said in suggesting that congressional leaders have as many as 30 days before deficit reductions need be nailed down to help smooth passage of debt-limiting extension legislation.
Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) said he wants a plan by the end of the month when his committee is supposed to produce a preliminary budget resolution for fiscal 1983. "It's not going to be an easy, quick thing to put together," he conceded.
At a luncheon meeting with reporters, Rep. Leon E. Panetta (D-Calif.) said he and Reps. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), Norman Y. Mineta (D-Calif.) and Timothy E. Wirth (D-Colo.)--Budget Committee Democrats who have been instrumental in developing previous House budget plans--have put together "elements" of what might go into a Democratic alternative.
The plan calls for an equal measure of tax increases and spending cuts to produce a deficit of about $75 billion for fiscal 1983, or $90 billion if Congressional Budget Office figures are used.
Without Reagan's proposed savings, which Congress is considered unlikely to approve, the Reagan deficit would be $145 billion by administration calculations and $157 billion by CBO calculations. The plan also would reduce deficits for future years by bigger amounts than does Reagan's budget.
Reducing Reagan's proposal for an after-inflation increase in defense spending from 7 percent to 5 percent, Panetta said, could save $25 billion to $35 billion over three years, including as much as $10 billion next year.
Another $4 billion could be saved next year, largely from foreign aid and military sales, by freezing domestic appropriations at fiscal 1982 levels, he said. And another $2.5 billion to $4 billion could be saved next year by reducing cost-of-living increases for retirement programs, he said.
Panetta outlined several possible tax-raising courses, including elimination or reduction of the 1983 tax cut, closing corporate tax loopholes and raising excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and luxuries. Indexing tax rates to inflation might be started in 1983 as a substitute for the tax cut, or possibly eliminated entirely, he said.
A combination of these proposals could yield $25 billion to $35 billion in revenues next year, Panetta said.
Democrats, he added, also will demand some "positive elements" in the budget, such as more money for private-sector job training, education and alternative energy programs and a trust fund maintained by user fees to finance such state and local government projects as transportation and water cleanup.
Such a plan would give Democrats a rallying point and could "also serve as the basis from which we could negotiate a bipartisan package," Panetta said. The plan includes many elements of options under study by Senate Republican leaders, although there are major differences in details.
Meanwhile, AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland presented to the House Budget Committee an alternative budget that he drafted last month. It includes increases in corporate taxes, import restrictions, housing investments, jobs programs and a new Reconstruction Finance Corp. to help distressed industries.
He also reiterated a proposal for an income surtax to finance the military buildup