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Kerry Wins Backing from Nobel Economics Laureates
By Michael Conlon
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - John Kerry won the endorsement of 10 Nobel Prize-winning economists on Wednesday as he attacked President Bush for policies that he said have led to the creation of only low-paying jobs.
The Democratic presidential nominee released a letter from the economists saying the Bush administration had "embarked on a reckless and extreme course that endangers the long-term economic health of our nation."
They cited "poorly designed" tax cuts that instead of creating jobs have turned budget surpluses into enormous budget deficits, a "fiscal irresponsibility threatens the long-term economic security and prosperity of our nation."
The endorsement, in the form of an open letter American voters, was signed by George Akerlof and Daniel McFadden of the University of California at Berkeley, Kenneth Arrow and William Sharpe of Stanford University, Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University, Lawrence Klein of the University of Pennsylvania, Douglass North of Washington University, Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow of MIT and Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University.
Kerry, in remarks prepared for an appearance in Philadelphia, called for "jobs that don't just let you survive but let you get ahead. Jobs that let you pay your bills, send your kids to college, buy a house, save a little for retirement and go out to dinner or a movie every once in a while."
Now, he said, good jobs are being replaced "with ones that just don't pay the bills," -- 1.8 million private sector jobs lost replaced by ones that pay $9,000 less and are more likely to be temporary less likely to offer health insurance.
Kerry hammered on the jobs issue in his neck-and-neck race for the Nov. 2 election with Bush after days of focus on criticism about his Vietnam war record.
In an appearance in Philadelphia Tuesday night the decorated veteran who became one of the conflict's leading critics firmly defended his opposition to the war.
Voters "can judge my character" by his Vietnam record, the Massachusetts senator said, "Because when the times of moral crisis existed in this country, I wasn't taking care of myself. I was taking care of public policy. I was taking care of things that made a difference to the life of this nation."
He said he served in Vietnam for two tours -- longer than opponents allege -- and the Navy "thought enough of my service that they made me an aide to an admiral."
Aides said his total service was about six months, including four months and 10 days in country and several weeks on a ship off the coast.
He was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.
"The Navy 35 years ago made the awards that it made through the normal process. I'm proud of them and I'm of my service and I'm proud that I stood up against the war when I got home because it was the right thing to do," he added.
The controversy over how Kerry won his medals in that war 35 years ago has recently stolen the spotlight in the race for the White House as both candidates try to portray themselves as best able to lead the United States in its global anti-terror war.
Some veterans, some with ties to the Republican Party and Bush allies, have called Kerry's courage into question and disputed the circumstances under which he received his medals.
But other veterans -- with direct knowledge of events -- have backed him up.
Bush's record during the Vietnam war has also drawn criticism from some Democrats who accuse him of going absent without leave from the Texas Air National Guard, citing gaps in his service record. Bush did not serve in Vietnam.