President-elect Reagan's first moves to stamp his brand on Washington
With a landslide mandate to strengthen his hand, President-elect Ronald Reagan now prepares to put his conservative brand on the nation's government. Vowing that he will "seize the historic opportunity to change things," Mr. Reagan moves to apply a formula which he has enunciated all along in ways voters clearly have understood and liked: less government and a stronger defense.
Already, Reagan was shaping his new administration. A Democrat, Sen. Henry M. Jackson of Washington has joined the Reagan transition team as a consultant. A Reagan aide disclosed that Senator Jackson might become the new secretary of defense.
At the same time, one highly placed Reagan adviser told the Monitor that any bipartisan flavor in the Reagan Cabinet would be "very limited." "Reagan must have those around him who are in tune with him ideologically," he said.
Further, it is felt that the Reagan Cabinet would be the "central force" in his approach to governing.
"Reagan," this source says, "wants his Cabinet members to work with him closely on a day-to-day basis in helping him govern. He intends to use his White House staff as helpers. But he expects to be able to keep his staffers in a secondary role. That, at least, is his intention as he takes over."
Ed Meese, longtime administrative aide of Reagan, is the coordinator of the Reagan transition team. He now looms as the likely Reagan chief of staff -- unless Reagan takes Gerald Ford's suggestion that he put Vice-President-elect George Bush in that position.
"Reagan has thought through Ford's idea," one Reagan aide says. "But he seems to have rejected it. He feels he should have someone as chief of staff who is not a public figure. He wants someone in that job who has a low profile -- and keeps a low profile."
Mr. Meese seems to fit that description, several Reagan aides say.
Within the Reagan camp the consensus seems to be that retired Gen. Alexander Haig, former Nixon chief of staff and more recently head of NATO forces, is the leading candidate to becoming secretary of state. General Haig once served under Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the Nixon administration.
The possibility that Reagan may pull a major surprise and make Dr. Kissinger his secretary of state has not been ruled out.
In any event, Kissinger has become one of Reagan's top advisers on foreign policy and will remain so even if not named to the Cabinet post.
As Reagan moves to implement a promise to cut inflation, curb unemployment, bring back lower interest rates, and stimulate the economy, he will rely heavily on old GOP administration hands including Alan Greenspan, Charls Walker, William Simon, Arthur Burns, George Shultz, and Paul McCracken.
One of those men will likely be secretary of the Treasury, another head of the Council of Economic Advisers.
These are the men who must lead him through to achieving his commitment to cutting personal taxes across the board by 10 percent next year and in 10 percent increments for the following two years -- while finding the money necessary to build national defenses and retain social services.
Reagan will also have an informal "kitchen cabinet" of influential advisers ranging from several California businessmen, who have supported his campaigns for years and helped him in governing California, to a few in Congress who have been close to him, including Sen. Paul Laxalt (R) of Nevada and Rep. Jack Kemp (R) of New York.
Caspar Weinberger, a former top man when Reagan was governor of California as well as one-time head of the Office of Management and Budget and former secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, seems certain to move into a job which calls upon his expertise as an administrator -- probably in the Cabinet.
A woman in the Cabinet? Anne Armstrong, co-chairman of the Reagan election campaign, seems certain to play a leading role in the Reagan government.
Who will be used as the new President's liaison with Congress?
Political operative William Timmons, who served in this capacity during the Nixon-Ford years, seems likely to be called upon to do the on-the-scene dealing with Congress. The new President will seek to gain approval for his initiatives from a Senate now controlled by Republicans and from a House which, although still in Democratic hands, will have a strengthened GOP minority.
"Reagan feels that liaison position is terribly important," a Reagan associate told the Monitor.
"He wants to establish good relations with Congress right from the outset. He feels that Carter made his first big mistake when he failed to get members of Congress behind him."
The President-elect is understood also to believe that a press secretary who will keep good relations with the press is all important. He is said to want his campaign press aide, Lynn Nofziger, to take over that task.
But Mr. Nofziger, talking to this reporter in Michigan recently, insisted that he was going back to private life after the campaign. "You'll take the job if Reagan insists," the reporter said. "You don't know me," Nofziger replied.
Reagan aides say there will be a number of fellow Californians around the new President, particularly in the White House, but that the new chief executive will seek to give his administration a "national" look. The major jobs will go to those who have served in recent GOP administrations.
"There will be no California 'mafia,'" William Casey, Reagan campaign chairman, says. Mr. Casey, a New Yorker is a likely choice for secretary of commerce.