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Release date: Jan. 25, 2002
Contact: Nancy Seideman, Director: 404-727-0640 or nseidem@emory.edu

Note to editors and reporters: Home phone numbers are available on request for those experts available immediately following the address.

Emory Experts Weigh in on President's State of the Union Address

* Military Spending Plan at Odds With Economy, Nature of Terrorist War
Doubling spending on domestic security will be one of three central themes in President Bush's state of the union address on Tuesday, but according to political scientist Robert Pastor, the proposal is at odds with the nation's economic condition and the nature of fighting a terrorist war in the 21st century.

"Our military strength relies on our economic strength, and that has been significantly eroded in the past year by Bush's tax cut and by a recession. The proposed build up would boost our spending on the military to more than the six other most powerful nations in the world combined," says Pastor.

Moreover, the president's idea of winning the terrorist war in the 21st century mistakes the nature of that war. "It's not like World War II; it's like the drug war or the war on organized crime. He can beat Al Capone, but he'll always have the Sopranos to cope with." Pastor can be reached at 404-727-6969.

* Congress and the President May Get Back to "Politics as Usual" as Midterm Elections Approach
As Sept. 11 recedes and midterm elections approach, Congress and President Bush are back to sparring over issues such as an economic stimulus package, missile defense, health care/prescription drug costs and campaign finance reform--the latter enjoying a rebirth thanks to the Enron scandal. Political scientist and congressional expert Randall Strahan says that it will be interesting to see how Bush's "sky-high" approval ratings impact the outcome of midterm congressional elections in Nov. 2002.

"The president's political party usually takes a hit in midterm elections, especially when the economy is weak," says Strahan. "Right now no one really knows whether the strong public support for Bush arising from the war on terrorism will help Republican candidates for the House and Senate. It also will be interesting to see, if the war winds down, whether Democrats will benefit from a shift in focus to domestic issues. That certainly occurred with the president's father after the end of the Gulf War." Strahan can be reached at 404-727-7913.

* A Big Boost in Defense Spending Indicates Deficit Spending is Ahead
A big boost in defense spending traditionally means tradeoffs between defense and other categories, so political scientist and defense economics expert David Davis is interested to hear how Bush plans to finance a doubling of the security budget. "I gather from the current numbers that the administration is going to run deficits to fund these security priorities," says Davis. "They could raise taxes, which isn't going to happen when they aren't even going to slow down the rate of tax cuts. The alternative is to cut tremendous amounts of spending in other areas, and I don't see that happening either." He was interested to hear Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan make comments Thursday encouraging Congress to put measures in place to prevent huge deficits caused by cutting taxes while boosting spending.

Davis notes how the increased defense budget money is allocated will determine how beneficial it is for the economy. "The money spent on a military pay increase would be a positive influence on the economy, because the personnel will turn around and spend those dollars, but expenditures on high tech weapons would not be as beneficial. A relative few defense contractors would benefit from that." Davis can be reached at 404-727-0109.


OTHER EMORY EXPERTS AVAILABLE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING
* On the Economy:

President Bush is addressing a nation that realizes its economic fate is increasingly tied to the international situation. Global marketing strategist Jagdish Sheth can comment about the president's strategies mesh on both the economic and international fronts. He can be reached at 404-727-7603 or Jagdish_Sheth@bus.emory.edu.

The president will make his economic stimulus package and job creation a central feature of his talk to the nation. Emory economist Hashem Dezhbakhsh can comment on whether the president's plan packs the punch the nation needs to pull itself out its economic slump. Dezhbakhsh (pronounced DEZ-bosh) can be reached at 404-727-4679 or econhd@emory.edu.

* On Bush as the Nation’s Moral Leader:
Religious faith in the public arena has taken on new prominence in the days since the terrorist attacks. President Bush has made clear on many occasions what his religious faith means to him in facing the challenges of leading the nation. Candler School of Theology's Thomas G. Long, named by Newsweek Magazine as one of the nation's top preachers, is available to discuss how the president's faith intersects with his role as "chief communicator" to the nation. Long can be reached at 404-727-5144 w or tglong@emory.edu.

* On the War Effort:
Political scientist Dan Reiter, author of the forthcoming book, "Democracies at War," argues that democracies wage war differently from the way dictators or one-party states enter conflicts. He is available to talk about the president's state of the union comments on the war on terrorism. Reiter can be reached at 404-727-0111 or dreiter@emory.edu.

* On Bush as "Chief Communicator":
Management communications experts Sherron Bienvenu and Molly Epstein lecture widely on communications styles and strategies. They are available to discuss the president's communications credibility, how he demonstrates his concern, his knowledge, his power and his confidence, both verbally and non-verbally. Bienvenu is available at 404-727-0437 or Sherron_Bienvenu@bus.emory.edu. Epstein is at 404-727-6715 or Molly_Epstein@bus.emory.edu.

* On Healthcare
Kenneth E. Thorpe, Ph.D., of Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, can discuss issues related to Medicare reform, prescription drugs for the elderly, and access to health care by the uninsured that could come up in Bush's address. Thorpe was deputy assistant secretary for health policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration. In this capacity, he coordinated all financial estimates and program impacts of president Clinton's health care reform proposals Thorpe can be reached at 404-727-3373.
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