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Germany

Former US Treasurer Campaigns for Kerry

Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin and former Secretary of the US Treasury W. Michael Blumenthal has hit the campaign trail. At home and abroad, he's busy touting for "his man" in the White House: John Kerry.

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Blumenthal believes Kerry would restore US - German relations

Michael Blumenthal wears his political confession on his sleeve -- or rather, on his lapel. Pinned there is a red, white and blue button with "John Kerry for President!" spelled out in big letters.

Speaking at a gathering of the American Academy in Berlin this week, Blumenthal explained why he thinks a President Kerry would be better for the United States and the world than President George W. Bush has been.

Bush's economic policy, he said, is both inadequate and wrong.

"The president has followed an economic policy in which he introduced three tax cuts, even during the Iraq war,"Blumenthal told DW-WORLD. "It's unprecedented to burden the budget with huge losses in income at the same time that you're fighting a war which requires huge military expenditures."

He added that tax cuts for the rich fail to stimulate the economy, and that the current high US deficit poses a threat to the global economy.

Blumenthal's opinion carries a great deal of weight. Born in Oranienburg, Germany in 1926, he moved to the US at age 21, where he rose through the ranks to become an economics professor at Princeton University. In his political career, he was an economics advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and Secretary of the Treasury under the Carter administration.

Politics for the people

Wahlkampf USA: Kerry und Bush, Fernsehdebatte

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry waves as President Bush looks on at the start of the presidential debate in St. Louis.

Blumenthal says Kerry would usher in an era of politics for the masses, not just for the wealthy. "He's reverse the tax cuts for the top earners -- those who earn more than $200,000 (€160,000). He's already made that clear," Blumenthal said.

Kerry has also promised to improve health and social welfare policies. Around 45 million people in the US currently live without proper health insurance. Kerry has promised to integrate 25 million of those people back into the health care system.

In Blumenthal's view, the other two main weaknesses in the Bush administration are related: the lack of social policies and the Iraq war.

"The difficulties in financing social programs and job creation programs in part arose because of the enormous sums that are being spent in Iraq," Blumenthal said.

Pre-emptive strikes

Blumenthal defended his candidate against allegations that he would not perform as well as the incumbent on matters of homeland security. The Bush administration has adopted a doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against any country it perceives to be a threat to America.

"If the danger is so great, then Kerry would also use all the means at his disposal to defend America," Blumenthal said, meaning Kerry hasn't ruled out pre-emptive strikes. "But he would only attack as a last resort."

That, for him, is the decisive difference between Kerry and Bush, who he says attacked Iraq without any solid intelligence about how big a threat it was. Post-attack, it's become clear that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, nor was Saddam Hussein as powerful as the Bush administration said.

Strengthening alliances

Despite the controversial doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, Blumenthal says a Kerry presidency would go a long way to mending American relations with Germany and other European countries.

"I believe that he would really work hard to restore the transatlantic ties that have worked so well during the last 50 years, during the Cold War," Blumenthal said. "He would work hard to prove to his colleagues in Germany, France, and other EU countries, that their opinion matters."

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