WASHINGTON - President Bush is preparing for his first full Cabinet meeting Monday amid indications that he is ready to jettison some positions from the 25-member conglomeration President Bill Clinton had amassed.
The White House insists that no decisions have been made, but word from within the administration is that the posts on the bubble for seats in the Bush Cabinet include the heads of the battles against drugs and disasters.
The prevailing thought at the White House is that it is not pivotal for the drug and disaster agencies to be Cabinet-level and that a slimmed-down Cabinet can be more effective.
The Bush administration is aware of the public relations problem that can be caused by dropping an agency from the Cabinet, particularly drugs and disasters.
"But I think what he is more looking at is what creates a more effective operation, what creates an effective Cabinet," said a Bush aide. "If you get the Cabinet too large, it becomes a bulky mechanism. It doesn't work smoothly together."
In a clear indication that the Bush team anticipates a potential outcry about moving the drug czar out of the Cabinet, there has been White House talk about pushing a message that the change "doesn't signal any change in his perception as to whether he thinks it's an important area," the aide said.