Ronald Reagan will move quickly to abolish the Carter administration inflation-monitoring Council on Wage and Price Stability, but he will wait until taking office in January before deciding whether to lift the grain embargo against the Soviet Union and eliminate draft registration, Edwin Meese III, who will be Reagan's White House counsel, said yesterday.
George Bush, the vice president-elect, will be given major responsibilities in the Reagan administration and will have an office in the White House, Meese said.
Meese discussed these Reagan administration plans with reporters as Reagan ended his widely praised week in Washington by meeting with his top advisers and former president Ford. Reagan flew to Los Angeles for two weeks in California which, Meese said, will be largely devoted to considering whom to name to his Cabinet.
Meese spoke scornfully of the Council on Wage and Price Stability. "That's an organization that probably will not last long," he said of the body that President Carter used to monitor his voluntary wage and price guidelines.
Meese said that the council employs 250 people at an annual cost of $10 million and that some of its functions can be shifted to the Office of Management and Budget or the Treasury Department while others are eliminated.
The grain embargo, which Reagan attacked, cost Carter farmers' votes. Meese left open the possibility, however, that Reagan will continue the embargo. He said Reagan's principal objection is that it penalized farmers while U.S.-Soviet trade in other commodities processed normally.
Meese said Reagan will make his decision in the light of all U.S.-Soviet relationships when he takes office.
Although Reagan promised to eliminate the Carter-imposed requirement that 18-year-old males register with the Selective Service System, Meese said it had not yet been determined whether the new president would have the power to wipe out the program with a stroke of his pen. This was the first time a potential legal obstacle had been raised. Both opponents and supporters of the registration system have assumed Reagan can cancel it if he wants to.
Meese, who will hold Cabinet rank and probably be the most powerful presidential aide in the Reagan administration, outlined some of the incoming president's organizational plans for the White House.
"The governor felt it was necessary to have someone on the White House staff with Cabinet rank who worked on policy," Meese said of his own post.
Meese will head the domestic policy staff and supervise the secretary to the Cabinet and the National Security Council.
He described his role as basically coordinating White House activities although he will also be involved in formulating policies. "I will make sure that the president has the widest possible range of views presented to him." Reagan likes to have advisers debate issues in his presence, Meese said.
Meese said he personally would have preferred a Cabinet post rather than the role he will play in the White House, but he is perhaps Reagan's most trusted aide and worked in a similar staff capacity when Reagan was governor of California.
He again explained the incoming administration's plans to reduce the authority of the presidential adviser on national security affairs. "He's not a policy maker, he's a policy coordinator," Meese said of the adviser, who is expected to be Richard V. Allen. Presidential advisers Henry A. Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski rivaled the secretary of state in power while holding the White House post.
The national security adviser will have at least one meeting daily with the president, Meese said, but will not be able to turn his access into power for three reasons: the person selected for the job, the terms under which he accepts the job and the fact that Meese will be there as "the referee -- or, I should say, the enforcer. That's a better way to put it."
The National Security Council will no longer have a spokesman or a person working on congressional relations, Meese said. Having its own press office "may have been one of their problems," Meese said of the National Security Council in other administrations.
On other subjects, Meese:
Made Bush's role sound similar to Vice President Mondale's in the Carter administration. Mondale has been closely involved in almost all policy decisions.
Said Reagan made an exception on Thursday to his policy of not meeting foreign leaders until after taking office because West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt had hosted Reagan in Germany and was at Blair House, literally around the corner from the house where Reagan was staying. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who unsuccessfully sought a meeting with Reagan, was never in the same city with the president-elect, Meese said.
Declared that he doubts Reagan will require any financial disclosure from his appointees beyond those mandated by law.
Said the Reagan team is looking for a White House press secretary and is considering revamping the press secretary's role with several specialists as assistants.
Insisted that Reagan had not looked at the list of possible Cabinet members sent to him by his California advisers until yesterday. Meese said 70 names are on the list, with four to 10 persons proposed for each of the 13 Cabinet posts.
Denied that former treasury secretaries George P. Shultz and William Simon had asked not to be considered for Cabinet posts.
Refused to say whether he thinks Paul Volcker has done a good job as head of the Federal Reserve Board or whether Volcker will be asked to serve out his term.
Said Reagan would travel to Capitol Hill occasionally and invite members of Congress to the White House.
Refused to predict quick results. Efforts to turn the economy around "should be making some progress by the end of 1981. It's taken a while to get into the problems we've got at the present time, and it's going to take a while to get out."
On the flight home to California, Reagan said his week in Washington was "heartwarming" and "most enjoyable. I feel it was very fruitful, the relationships that were started, that were established on the Hill and so forth."
The big surprise of the week, the president-elect said, was reading the newspapers and discovering that his visits and dinners with various Washington VIPs were considered newsworthy. "I was kind of surprised to find out . . . how many things I'd done were considered unusual," Reagan told reporters on the Air Force plane. "I would have thought they were the natural thing."
Asked what he was thankful for with the Thanksgiving season approaching, Reagan said, "Oh, boy -- more than just the election. I'm a very lucky fellow. Life has seemed to me, every year that went by, to get better."