President-elect Ronald Reagan would accept a Senate-drafted tax cut rather than insist initially on the more sweeping tax reduction that was the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, one of his senior aides said today.
Ed Meese, Reagan's transition director, said Reagan would like to see the lame-duck session of Congress that convenes this week pass the tax-cut package written by the Senate Finance Committee.
Meese called the proposal drafted in the outgoing Democratic-controlled Senate "a good package," and said its enactment would bring a tax cut into effect at the earliest possible time -- Jan. 1.
"Let's not waste any time," Meese said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Let's get tax cuts into effect."
Reagan built his campaign around his call for the Kemp-Roth proposal, a sweeping 10 percent across-the-board tax cut in each of the next three years. a
He would accept the Senate package, however, in the interest of speeding tax relief and then would seek to modify the tax legislation as he saw fit in 1981, Meese said.
On another subject, Meese said that Reagan is leaning toward not meeting with any foreign leaders until after his inauguration to avoid undercutting President Carter or confusing other nations about American policy.
However, Meese held out the possibility that Reagan could meet some foreign leaders jointly with Carter. The president-elect will discuss this question when he meets Carter in Washington next week, Meese said.
One step Reagan will take to alter foreign policy-making when he takes over the White House will be to reduce the authority of the White House national security affairs adviser, Meese said.
Henry A. Kissinger, who held the position in the Nixon administration, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, who holds it in the Carter administration, played large roles in formulating policy. Meese said the adviser should coordinate and expedite matters for the president, but not compete with the secretary of state in policy-making.
Meese refused as he has before, to discuss the chances of individuals, including Kissinger, who have been mentioned as candidates to become Reagan's secretary of state.
He also refused to discuss his own role in the Reagan White House, although Meese is widely expected to become Reagan's chief of staff.
The president-elect, in his last public appearance before arranging to go to his ranch near Santa Barbara for a week of briefings, meetings with advisers and reflection, said today his top priority this week is to begin setting up his administration so it can "hit the ground running" in January.
Buttonholed by reporters as he left the Bel-Air Presbyterian Church and asked what his number one priority will be this week, he replied: "The top priority right now is the transition -- to set up our administration and be able to hit the ground running."
Reagan, dressed in a green plaid suit, and his wife, Nancy, were applauded by church-goers when they were welcomed by the Rev. Donn Moomaw.
"Why are you so excited this morning?" the minister jokingly asked his congregation.