Originally created 11/07/96

Experts predict more of same



Augusta can expect to get exactly what it voted for Tuesday - four more years of status quo, experts said.

With President Clinton returning to the White House, and Republicans like Charlie Norwood and Newt Gingrich returning to Congress, the country is likely to see small shifts and compromises in the next four years rather than bold proposals and revolutionary programs, said Dr. Ralph Walker, political science professor at Augusta State University.

"I would call it incremental government," Dr. Walker said.

The picture is less clear when it turns to vital institutions like Fort Gordon and Savannah River Site. While Dr. Norwood and Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., say defense cannot stand any more cuts, others believe defense will suffer in the drive to balance the budget. And without Sen. Sam Nunn, Georgia will be a target, said Dr. Charles Bullock, University of Georgia political scientist. Budget-cutters scared off by the furor over attempts to cut future spending in programs like Medicare will have to look at the military, Dr. Bullock said.

"Georgia's overdue to lose something," Dr. Walker agreed.

With President Clinton having survived a massive backlash over his health care plan, and Republicans weathering a blistering attack over Medicare reforms this year, neither side is likely to go for radical change in health care, said Robert Taylor, president of University Health Link.

"It's politically untenable," he said. More than likely, both sides will allow the market to curb rising health care costs through smaller measures like medical savings accounts and expanding managed care for Medicare recipients, he said.

Dr. Norwood worries more about Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center suffering from the downsizing. While SRS retains its heavyweight backers like Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., some predict little will change for the old "bomb plant."

"It's going to be pretty much status quo," said Brian Costner, director of the Energy Research Foundation. But others, like Dr. Norwood, say there will still be an anti-nuclear bias and apathy in the Clinton administration to deal with.

But at this point, speculating on what Mr. Clinton might do in a second term is simply guesswork because of the frequent shifts in direction he's displayed during his previous term, Dr. Norwood said.

"I'm absolutely looking forward to finding out what Bill Clinton really does believe," Dr. Norwood said.