U.S. Needs Strong R&D Portfolio to Remain Globally Competitive

By U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho
April 2014

Six years ago, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression consumed the United States. Since then, many American jobs have vanished and have yet to return. Due to the global nature of today’s economy, the aftershocks of the Great Recession reverberated well beyond our own borders. This new, global economy is a highly technological one that rests upon scientific innovation through research and development. Therefore, in order for America to retain its dominant economic position in the world economy — and to pull itself out from this economic downturn — we must continue to support research for scientific innovation.

America’s spirit, vision, and leadership has made this country an incubator of innovation. Our commitment to nurturing this spirit will continue to lead to economic growth and the next big scientific breakthrough. Imagine a cure for cancer or making hydrogen power available for everyone — advancements that will change the lives of all mankind. Promising research like this is happening in my district right now.

Since Florida’s Third District is home to the University of Florida, I have a keen appreciation of the link between education, scientific innovation and economic prosperity. Over the past 20 years, we have seen amazing breakthroughs in research that have led to scientific innovation. The world is becoming more interconnected through high technology and will continue to do so.

Today, there is much talk about the “rise of the rest.” Countries like Brazil, China and India, long considered impoverished nations in need of assistance, are now embracing all new forms of economic development that have transformed their countries into bastions of prosperity. In many cases, it has been their investment in scientific research and development that has granted them the prosperity they have long sought. Even fellow developed nations, like Canada and those that make up the European Union, have begun competing with the United States for dominance in the research and development field. All of these countries understand that the economy is permanently bound to greater and greater scientific advancement.

The one thing that is required to spur these advancements is a robust system of higher education. Unlike many of our competitors around the world, the United States has many of the world’s leading research universities. These institutes are well-suited to spearhead the next phase of high-tech, economic development. Because of this, we have the opportunity to continue to ensure that the United States retains its place as the dominant economic power in the world.

Research programs such as the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), which is a federal-state-county partnership, has been instrumental in bringing $108.7 billion to the gross domestic product of the state economy. This, and similar programs, have not only expanded Florida’s economy, but they have also helped pave the way for an expansion of high-tech jobs in our district and our state. These jobs are the key to America’s future economic prosperity. Programs such as this also expand our research universities both in terms of size and personnel. The more we expand these institutions, the more people can be employed by the invaluable high-tech industry.

We have all experienced the negative impacts of the Great Recession. Given the globalized nature of our economy, there is no part of the world that has been left untouched by these tragic economic events. Since the world economy runs on high technology, the best chance for pulling ourselves out of this malaise is through sustained support for research and development.

One of the great developments of the past 20 years has been the creation of the Internet. This was the result of extensive research and development. Life-saving medicines, revolutionary communication technologies, and groundbreaking scientific methods that transform the way we live our lives have all stemmed from greater commitments to the research that scientific innovation. As the century progresses, these innovations will only lead to a greater need for scientific advancement. The country that capitalizes on this need and becomes home to the knowledge required for expanding the high-tech economy will be an economic powerhouse. Furthermore, the cities and states that embrace these new developments will reap untold prosperity for a long time to come.

It is my wish that we continue to support research universities, as they will spearhead the next wave of scientific development that will enable our economy to flourish. The jobs created by these institutions — and the fields they contribute to — will be long-lasting and have immensely positive results for the communities that embrace and support these institutions. Such investments in our future will help save us from our present economic woes, while creating a more prosperous future.

Congressman Ted Yoho (R) represents North Central Florida’s 3rd Congressional district. He was elected to the 113th Congress in November 2012. Prior to serving in Congress, he was a small business owner who operated several large animal veterinary practices.

Born in Minnesota, Ted moved to South Florida, where he met his wife Carolyn and married her at age 19. After completing his AA degree at Broward Community College, Ted and Carolyn moved to Gainesville, where Ted enrolled at the University of Florida. He graduated in 1983 with his bachelor's degree in animal science and doctorate of veterinary medicine.

After establishing a reputation of accountability and service as a veterinarian, Congressman Yoho became inspired to follow a new calling — serving the country he loves. His approach to government is guided by constitutional principles, the idea of small government, fiscal conservatism, personal responsibility and free enterprise. Once he was sworn into the 113th Congress, Congressman Yoho was appointed to the Foreign Affairs and Agriculture Committees.

When he is not in Washington representing his constituents, he is home spending time with his wife and three kids, fishing and cheering on his Florida Gators.

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho
Photo courtesy of the Office of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho