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Federal File: Bennett on Bell; No rating; Reviewing regulations

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Secretary of Education William J. Bennett has broken his silence on his predecessor's memoir, saying there "should be a limit on how much someone kisses and tells."

When former Secretary Terrel H. Bell published The Thirteenth Man, in which he sharply criticized the Reagan Administration's policies on education and civil rights, Mr. Bennett declined to comment.

But at a budget hearing this month, Representative David Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, quoted Mr. Bell as he noted that the Administration has asked for increases in education spending only in election years.

"Your statements are not as credible as they could be," Mr. Obey told the Secretary, adding, "I hope this is not a repeat of Ted Bell's story."

"I can tell you one place where there will be no repeat," Mr. Bennett replied. "I will not leave this job and then go and write a book about the people with whom I worked."

Mr. Bennett then allowed that he might write a book about his tenure, but said it wouldn't be "a Ted Bell book." He added, "I'm going to write my book," implying that Mr. Bell had help from a ghostwriter.

"I object to some of the suggestions in the attitude and tone of the book about the Administration," Mr. Bennett said later. "He implies that he was the only virtuous man in the Administration."

Mr. Bennett also took offense in public this month at a letter sent to Cabinet members by a colleague of the columnist Jack Anderson, requesting that they evaluate the performance of Vice President George Bush.

"The public is quite capable of deciding what kind of President George Bush would be without the aid of yet one more column based on a few selected and, it appears, perhaps unattributed remarks," he said in a prepared statement.

The Office of Management and Budget approved 192 of 203 Education Department proposals submitted for review in 1987, according to the public-interest group omb Watch.

Education is one of six agencies that were unsuccessful with 5 percent or more of their proposed regulations or data-collection activities.

The department withdrew nine of its unsuccessful proposals in the face of opposition, and thus only two were actually vetoed.

Omb "does not come out and disapprove Education Department activities, but they question them heavily and the agency withdraws them first," said Gwen Rubenstein of omb Watch.--jm

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