TO JUDGE what an opposition party would do

in office, you can look at what its candidates say on the campaign trail or at what they are doing in the parts of government they already control. The latter evidence is usually more reliable. And in the case of the Democrats today, it suggests that a Democratic government would not expand the size and increase the responsibilities of government as much as either Democratic or Republican rhetoric suggests.

Consider the response of the Democrat-controlled longed recession and 11 percent unemployment. It got the president and the Republican Senate to go along with e $4.6 billion jobs program, but, as predicted, that's producing few jobs slowly. On other issues, Republican Senate and the White House enables House Democrats to pass programs that they might use as campaign issues lat health insurance for the unemployed, further mortgage assistance for farmers and home owners and the $700 capcut. But note that these programs only nibble at the edges of unemployment and the inequity the Democrats see gram. House Democrats seem quite unwilling to vote for a large public service jobs program, and their support ey have already passed seemed in many cases halfhearted.

What we don't see here are proposals for vastly expanding government--or even for expanding it, in some respects, back to the size it was befudget cuts. Nor are we likely to see any such proposals in the next few months; the recovery apparently under he arguments for anti-recessionary measures. A similar picture is apparent where Democrats control major staterom spending money on new programs, these Democrats have concentrated on raising taxes to maintain reduced levIt can be argued that the Democrats are not proposing more government because of the straitened fiscal circumsh federal and state governments. And it's certainly true that the Democrats would spend more on domestic programs than would a federal government in which the House and Senate as well as there held by Reagan Republicans. Still, we think there's something more than calculation and prudence behind the Democrats' failure to advance, even as a campaign issue, a substantiapansion of government. That something seems to be a lack of confidence that more government is what the nation's right, then whatever the results of the 1984 election, the Reaganites will have had some success in slowingovernment--not as much as they'd like, but more than most observers would have guessed five or 10 years ago.