The Post's editorial "S&L Recriminations" {July 10} sketches the stages of the continuing savings and loan crisis, warning that too little attention has been paid to the root causes of the dilemma.

Unfortunately, the editorial misses a stage. In between stage three, real acknowledgment of the problem, and stage four, the current examination of questionable 1988 deal-making, lurks a stage in the crisis that carries with it the potential for huge expense.

That stage is current as well, and traces back to the day after President Bush signed the S&L bailout bill last August. While the president deserves credit for developing and helping to pass tough legislation, since it was signed into law, his administration has largely abdicated its responsibility for using the tools at its disposal to end this mess once and for all.

Despite repeated assurances that the cleanup would cost no more than $50 billion, Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady came to Congress in May to announce that the cost would be at least $100 billion and possibly as high as $130 billion.

Thus a second S&L crisis was unveiled. It is a crisis brought about by 11 months of indifference, bureaucratic infighting, poor management, needless delay and minimal planning. Through a near-total lack of leadership, the Bush administration added to the cost of the cleanup by at least its original amount.

These inadequacies are not the stuff of scandal. But they are the stuff of irresponsibility, and when the consequence is tens of millions of dollars daily in new costs, they need to be illuminated.

Who would have thought a year ago that we would still be talking about the S&L crisis? The problems of the past would bring little attention if the disaster were really behind us. So, as we continue to hunt the past for villains and causes, let us keep our eyes on the present as well. The here and now is where the problems that affect us the most -- and that we can do the most about -- reside. CHARLES E. SCHUMER U.S. Representative (D-N.Y.) Washington