The House Budget Committee on Tuesday moved toward approval of a Democratic $1.46 trillion budget proposal for 1992 that boosts education and poverty programs, makes no tax changes and picks up on the fairness theme Democrats introduced last year.

Republicans oppose the plan as unnecessary, contending it makes only cosmetic changes in the spending outline President Bush unveiled in February and is largely partisan rhetoric.Rep. Leon Panetta, D-Calif., chairman of the House Budget Committee, predicted the blueprint would be approved by the panel and sent to the House floor early next week.

The budget plan was the opening shot for a number of Democratic initiatives on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers, following a two-week Easter break, began emerging from their absorption with the Persian Gulf war.

Democrats planned to start pressing their initiatives, as congressional committees took up bills ranging from gun-control to the skyrocketing costs of medical care.

Panetta told his colleagues that the Democratic spending plan was aimed at helping average Americans.

"The main thrust is to focus on working men and women," he said.

Republicans countered that when examined closely, the Democratic plan moved few dollars around. Panetta himself said that out of $200 billion Bush proposed spending for domestic purposes, excluding benefit programs such as Social Security, Democrats would rearrange $10 billion.

"Basically what we've seen is more rhetoric than substance in terms of movement" of money, said Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif.