December 3rd, 2008
03:45 PM ET
3 years ago

Gates presses Obama on stimulus package, foreign aid

Gates is pressing Obama to double the United State's foreign aid commitment.
Gates is pressing Obama to double the United State's foreign aid commitment.

(CNN) – Microsoft founder Bill Gates told CNN Wednesday he hopes President-elect Barack Obama and Congress immediately craft a wide-ranging stimulus package to help jump-start the nation's sputtering economy, and double the United State's commitment to foreign aid.

"Clearly we need a stimulus that doesn’t undermine the incentive for businesses to be careful about their spending and making those correct investments," Gates told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive interview airing on The Situation Room Wednesday and Thursday.

Watch Bill Gates on the economy

Gates, among the world's richest men and founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, is also calling on the future commander-in-chief to increase investments in the nation's education system and spur technological advances to improve agriculture, prevent disease, and economic growth in the world's poorest nations.

OPEN LETTER: Sign up for Gate's candid take

"The key point I’d make is that in addition to that stimulus, you’ve got to fund the kind of scientific work and educational investments that could really have us be a much better country as we emerge from the recession," he said.

According to Obama's Web site, the incoming president has pledged to double the United State's annual investment in foreign aid to $50 billion by the end of his first term, with the goal of fully funding debt cancellation for indebted poor nations and fighting AIDS and global poverty.

In the interview with CNN, Gates said he expects Obama will live up to that commitment.

"Obviously it's the Congress that gets to actually vote the final decision for how the money is spent but I do think he will get to that commitment," Gates said. "I am thrilled to be able to see that people are responding to the success stories. Aid from the United States did go up in the last eight years."

The interview came shortly before the Microsoft founder delivered a wide-ranging speech at George Washington University, during which he reiterated his call for a major new stimulus package to spur job growth.

"Spending is the only way we'll ever come out of this downturn, and with businesses, state governments and consumers pulling back, the federal government must step forward," Gates told the crowd.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has distributed more than $17 billion in grant commitments in all 50 states and 100 countries. In his interview with CNN, Gates said he had personally given over $30 billion to the foundation.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. Almost the end of THE error!

    I agree with your saying Mr. Gates, however we really need to put funds into our own country. After we start putting money into energy exploration in wind, clean-coal, solar, and safe nuclear and oil drilling we will be in much better shape as a country to help others. Once we are better off at home, we will be better prepared to help those abroad.

    December 3, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. John Jenkins

    I agree with Bill EXCEPT on double foreign aid. Our wallet's (as a nation) are stretched thin and we need to be reevaluating out spending. The economy needs a boost. We should take care of our own, first and foremost. I'm all about foreign aid, but doubling it?!? Hell no. Not while people in our own nation are suffering. Sorry.

    December 3, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Desert Storm Vet

    Let me see if I get this straight about the plan – Bail out Banks, Bail out the Auto Corporations, bail out the states... I think I'm beginning to understand trickle up economics.

    December 3, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Lesley

    Too bad there were no Republicans in the crowd at Geo. Washington University – they are still insisting we do not need a stimulus package.

    December 3, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. Dayahka

    Most–if not all–foreign aid just ends up in the bank accounts of the wealthy or government leaders, so doubling the amount will only add to the corruption–and will not do a thing for the country intended, so, sorry Bill Gates, but this is a bad idea. As for another stimulus, it better involve direct investment in businesses that are directly related to national security–food production and distribution, energy, public transit, water, waste–and not to luxury items (like auto makers) or to keeping businesses that failed on life support.

    December 3, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. indiePA

    ...And he could stop pressing for the capability of hiring more foreign workers for his company. He should be mentoring the college students of information technology who are American citizens!!

    December 3, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. Debbie

    Yup, you have to spend money to make money, not give money to companies and not expect them to pay it back.

    December 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Marie banderas

    I sure believe Gates is right, and WE, the people deserve that, above and ahead of the 3 auto makers ! If I make mistakes and bad choices, I alone have to pay for them or go banrupt, so WHY should the auto makers be any different...put the people ( who voted you in Obama ) 1st...
    THANK YOU

    December 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  9. Jesse Callahan

    I agree with Bill Gates. A stimulus is an absolute necessity. I don't however think it should be in the form of a no strings handout. As for increasing foreign aid, I do not agree that we should continue supporting those third world countries that openly display their hatred of the U.S. Those monies should be removed and applied to those who are more friendly. As for the economy in this country; there is enough work on our own infrastructure to keep hundreds of thousands of workers busy and productive for at least a quarter century or more. These are just a few musings of an 86 year old who has lived thru it all; wars, depressions, and above all....some great times in the U.S.

    Jesse Callahan
    Brookeland, Texas

    December 3, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  10. jay

    OK !!!! first things first. Let's get our house in order then we can think about the other houses. I am an african and american citizen. But for now let's get the american economy back of track, then we can think about africa.

    December 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. tbell

    didn't I read somewhere that bill gates was in congress trying to get visas extended to fill jobs that apparently couldn't be filled in the us.

    December 3, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. Trish

    Here we go with the money going out of our country for aid to help poor nations. Go ahead Bill and Melinda, you have plenty of money to keep giving.

    December 3, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  13. Karen

    Good thing someone does because I can't stand them.

    December 3, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  14. Amber

    The Gates are great philanthropists.

    Bill could bail out the auto industry without even breaking a sweat.

    I wonder if we're going to see our first trillionaire within a decade?

    December 3, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  15. CARLtheHVACguy

    Hey Bill......Keep encouraging the knuckleheads in Washington, D.C.!

    The only reason your business is down is because of the defective products you produce like XBOX with the eventual "Red Ring of DEATH"! You cannot 100% back you product because it is mads overseas! You are another company that has shifted all your technical support to the terrorist supporting countries, and the bulk of your manufacturing business there too!

    If you have not noticed, we as a country have been giving aid over seas since NAFTA! Putting people to work in other countries! FORD built an exceptionally automated plant in South America! Now FORD is asking for a BAILOUT(Handout)!

    The problem is that businessmen like you no longer have the confidence in our country and continue to send it all over seas!

    So why should we listen to you and have the idiots in Washington, D.C. support these companies?

    For what.......To make the rest of the world more prosperous???

    December 3, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Me

    Wait, lemmie guess – Bill wants MORE cheap foreign labor, right? Go away, Bill. You're a disgrace to this country.

    December 3, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  17. paul oregon

    gates talk is cheap. if you were really serious why dont you step up and help out youre country. break out the check book and lets see
    agood stimulus to help your country out?

    December 3, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  18. Cathy in Florida

    How about Bill Gates giving up his quest for those M1 Visa's or whatever they're called. The visas that will allow more cheap Chinese and Indian labor to come and WORK FOR HIM..

    How about HE gives OUR high school and college graduates some inscentives to stay in school. How about HE offers them a job with GOOD PAY in HIS company.

    But then again, how would he make his BILLIONS if he has to pay AMERICAN workers a decent wage?

    December 3, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  19. roy

    What an interesting country and culture that can produce both a Bill Gates and a George W. Bush.

    December 3, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  20. Diane Clancy

    I couldn't figure out how to leave a question for the auto execs ... so I am leaving it here.

    I would ask them – How much of YOUR OWN financial compensation are you giving up to help make any bailout work? Would you be willing to drastically reduce your and the other executives salaries to make these companies more solvent?

    December 3, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Teddy Bee

    Can Bill lower my taxes?

    December 3, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  22. Milhouse van Houten

    Kind of easy to talk about spending when you are in his kind of income bracket.

    December 3, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  23. N. S. Huntsville, Al

    Bill Gates should have been the SOS or somewhere in Obamas cabinet. He is a good man and he cares alot about others, exspecially those who are less fortunate.

    December 3, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  24. Republican for Obama (from NC)

    ". . . his call for a major new stimulus package to spur job growth."

    I'm getting sick of all these companies wanting a handout. Because of the wide-ranging impact the automotive industry has throughout our nation with complimentary companies, we need to bail them out or risk throwing the economy into a depression. However, American companies like Microsoft (which Gates is no longer active with) need to get back to making decent, WORKING products that American's want. Folks argue that it is the price of the products but if you supply us with products that work, are not junk, and don't break the moment the warranty (if there is one) lapses, there are a multitude of people that will buy American products.

    December 3, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  25. Seattle Sue

    And all this from a man that outsources job at the drop of a hat. Mr. Gates is forever trying to get more visas for foreign workers to come into our country. He has been generous but he probably has 50 billion dollars left. In 1999 he was worth 100 billion dollars.

    December 3, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
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