Downsizing at the West Wing?

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The White House expects attacks — from members of both parties — next week when it releases its 2006 budget, because the blueprint includes deep spending cuts in hundreds of domestic programs. To show that it's not above sacrifice, the Administration will promise to cut White House employees in the second term. Exactly how many jobs will go, and which ones, remains unclear. "We are going to put our money where our mouth is," says a senior Administration official. "We're not dimming the lights, but we're looking at personnel and seeing if we can do more with less." One Administration ally suggested that Bush could afford to shed some bodies now that his policy for the second term agenda has been laid out. Presidents generally avoid such unilateral disarmament since Congress never cuts its staff. But a few years ago, a similar cost-cutting instinct led the Clinton Administration to rely more heavily on unpaid interns — a decision that turned out to be fateful.