WASHINGTON: CITY OF SCANDALS: Investigating Congress and Other Big Spenders by Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON: CITY OF SCANDALS: Investigating Congress and Other Big Spenders

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Call it The Federal Rathole (1975) or Fat City: How Washington Wastes Your Taxes (1980) or Washington: City of Scandals (etc.), Lambro is at it again--but now with four years of conservative Republican misdoing to uncover (""the swamp"" excoriated by OMB's Stockman ""is still undrained""), and under the aegis of a mainstream publisher. (The earlier books came from Arlington House and Regnery-Gateway, respectively.) Not that congressional boondoggling or pocket-lining get off: Lambro harps on the failure to exercise oversight; he goes after the franking privilege, the pay rise, and the pension system. Still very much on the Right, he also scores congressional ""hypocrisy"" (waste somewhat apart) in beginning each day with a prayer ""that would probably be enough to get a public school teacher fired""; in allowing ex-lawmakers to become business-lobbyists, but not ex-officials. Across the board, government agencies still fail to measure up: from the Government Printing Office (overpaid, inefficient) to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (the ultimate in ""wasted resources, program duplication, bloated payrolls, and archaic policies""). Here and there, Lambro picks up allies. (""The articulate and always thought-provoking Barbara Jordan told me she did not believe the country needed any new programs or new laws. The challenge is to make the programs we already have work."") He reviews the hard lot of the whistle-blower. (""What happens to them afterward is one of Washington's continuing scandals."") He reports that Reagan asked him what he could be doing differently--to which Lambro ""replied a little sheepishly, 'those hundred programs and agencies I discussed [in a previous book] are still there.' "" In the windup, Lambro comes down as usual on multitudinous forms of government spending. But by his doggedness he has carved himself out a small, peripheral niche--just sufficiently non-partisan, now that the liberal bogey is in abeyance and the Reagan budget is unbalanced, to give his updated plaints some reference-value.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1984
Publisher: Little, Brown