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Clinton: Invest In Internet And Research

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called for a national broadband Internet system and permanent research tax credits and took a swipe at the Bush administration quoting comedian Stephen Colbert for the second time in a week.

The Democratic front-runner and New York senator said high-tech jobs can't be sustained without investment in the high-tech fields, and if elected she would chart "a new course to create new jobs, grow the economy and strengthen the middle class."

"The nation that invented the Internet is now ranked about 25th in access to it," Clinton said in her latest speech directed at the middle class.

Called "Connect America," Clinton's broadband network would give businesses incentives to go into underserved areas, support state- and local-based initiatives and change the Federal Communication Commission rules to more accurately measure Internet access.

"I see this problem in New York. A lot of the utilities don't want to connect up our isolated, rural areas. And they also don't want particularly to go into our underserved, poor, urban areas because there's so much money that can be made in Manhattan and our suburban areas," Clinton said. "It was like when we had to electrify the country in the 1930s. Utilities didn't electrify places because it wasn't cost effective for them to do so. Well, we've got to play catch-up."

Clinton said the Internet is the new necessity for economic development. "In the 19th Century, we invested in railroads. In the 20th Century, we built the interstate highway system. In the 21st Century information economy we need to invest in our information infrastructure."

Clinton also advocated making permanent the research and experimentation tax credits, which more than 15,000 companies have used since they began 1981.

"We cannot rebuild a strong and prosperous middle class if we don't have a new source of new jobs," Clinton said. "Our country is a country of innovators. We're not acting like it right now, but we have all the potential to get into gear quickly."

Clinton also repeated a pledge made last week in a speech to the Carnegie Institution for Science to give researchers increased freedom and to end the politicization on science. She cited Colbert, the Comedy Central news anchor with a pseudo-conservative personality.

"To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, that great philosopher, this administration doesn't make decisions based on facts, it makes facts based on decisions," Clinton said to laughter. "By ignoring or manipulating science the Bush administration is letting our economic competitors get an edge in the global economy."

At a later campaign stop in Derry, Clinton repeated the joke and her pledge to help fund innovation. "Historically, we've invested in science and research as a partnership. The federal government has done a lot," she said. "Any time we have faced a challenge, we have gotten busy."

A Republican National Committee spokeswoman said voters should be asking more questions of Clinton's plan.

"What would be innovative would be for Hillary Clinton to explain to American taxpayers how she is going to pay for all of the new social programs she is proposing," Summer Johnson said.