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Common Cents: A Retiring Six-Term Congressman Reveals How Congress Really Works--and What We Must Do to Fix It
     

Common Cents: A Retiring Six-Term Congressman Reveals How Congress Really Works--and What We Must Do to Fix It

by Timothy J. Penny, Major Garrett
 

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A retired six-term congressman revals how Congress really works--and what Americans must do to fix it--in this eye-opening chronicle that names the names and takes readers inside some of the most notorious Washington episodes in the last five years.

Overview

A retired six-term congressman revals how Congress really works--and what Americans must do to fix it--in this eye-opening chronicle that names the names and takes readers inside some of the most notorious Washington episodes in the last five years.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Former Minnesota Congressman Penny, who retired in 1994, believes that Congress is gridlocked by fear of voter disapproval, partisan bickering, special-interest groups and the concentration of power in the hands of a few elite lawmakers. In a rousing citizen's guide to political empowerment, the former Democratic representative urges voters to support legislators who will overhaul the system. He calls for a great reduction of the federal deficit, partly through cuts in Social Security, Medicare, veterans' and other entitlement benefits. The core of this first-person narrative, coauthored with Washington Times reporter Garrett, is an anecdotal account of congressional power plays, wasteful spending and pork-barrel deals. Penny, now a spokesperson for the Concord Coalition, which favors deficit reduction, sets forth a modest package of sensible reforms. Among his proposals: Abolish automatic annual spending increases for every federal program; limit committee chairpersonships to four- or six-year terms; make campaigns more competitive by imposing rigid limits on candidates' spending. (Apr.)
Library Journal
There have been a number of recent books purporting to explain "how Congress works," among them Steven Waldman's The Bill (LJ 2/1/95) and Bill Thomas's Club Fed (LJ 10/1/94). Unlike the others, this book is written by a true insider. Retired Democrat Penny and journalist Garrett paint a rather unflattering portrait of Congress. During his six terms in the House, Penny developed a reputation as a fiscal conservative; he voluntarily retired after repeated unsuccessful efforts to restrain federal spending. He blames his failures on the "cultures of Congress"-the cultures of spending, hypocrisy, fear (of not being reelected), power, isolation (from voters), and partisanship-and he offers numerous examples of how these cultures work to subvert the public's will. Unfortunately, Penny's unbalanced treatment reveals more about his jaded perspective than it does about the institution's inner workings. Penny rarely acknowledges congressional successes and does not seriously address the fundamental problem with Congress-the influence of money in congressional elections. Nevertheless, this book offers timely information about the new congressional leadership that suggests how the 104th Congress will perform.-Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380727193
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/28/1996
Edition description:
Updated
Pages:
262
Product dimensions:
6.01(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.79(d)

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