Gates Meets with Obama

Bill Gates is advising President-elect Barack Obama that he should up deficit spending to help the people hardest hit by current economic woes, reports the Washington Post. Gates met with the Post today as part of a trip to D.C. in which he gave the interview, reportedly met with Vice President-elect Joe Biden and spoke at The George Washington University.

This is not a new theme for the capitalist-turned-philanthropist. It is also not surprising that, when speaking to the students at the university, Gates emphasized that he'd like the government expand its investment in education. But he also would like to see economic stimulus that aims to fight disease and poverty around the world. Gates pointed to investments in health, education, and development that have made demonstrable differences during the past decade. He says that America must continue to build on these investments. Gates wants to see that Obama does not trim back on his campaign pledge to double foreign assistance -- that amounts to $50 billion by 2012, and he hopes the American people will stand by Obama as he spends that $50 billion, too. Gates met with the Post today as part of a trip to D.C. in which he gave the interview, reportedly met with Vice President-elect Joe Biden and spoke at The George Washington University.

As for education, Gates says, according a press release issued by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation the federal government can help accelerate school reform by:

  • Boosting the recruitment and retention of effective teachers
  • Aliging state standards with top international standards and adopting curricula that help students meet them
  • Making post secondary completion a national priority by rewarding college completion
  • Building data systems to create the infrastructure to help drive evidence-based reform in high schools and colleges
    "Today's down economy doesn't mean education will be less important for the future, so a down economy doesn't mean we should cut back on education," Gates said.

According to a transcript of this speech posted on www.gatesfoundation.org, Bill Gates told this story to prove his point:

"Smart, creative initiatives that encourage post secondary completion offer the best opportunity to fight inequity in America, while investing in health and development offers us the best chance to fight inequity around the world," he said. "Two years ago, Melinda and I visited an AIDS clinic in Durban, South Africa. I remember talking with patients and doctors while I watched the daily work of the clinic. People who showed up were welcomed by the staff. They were able to get counseling. They were able to get antiretroviral drugs. Everything seemed smooth and normal, and then it struck me: this is a compete change!"

"A decade ago, when Melinda and I went to sub-Saharan Africa, it was totally different. Mothers sat with their sick children in dirty, crowded hallways -- trying to get the attention of health workers who were understaffed and overwhelmed. The health workers had no medicine, and they knew the children had no future," he continued. "What accounts for the difference? The number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment increased from 400,000 in 2003 to 3 million in 2007. This money is not just saving lives; it’s saving children from becoming orphans. Parents are now living to take care of their children, send them to school, and help them grow up. This huge change came in part from an infusion of American tax dollars -- through PEPFAR and the Global Fund. President Bush and Congress knew how much the American people would care and would want to help -- and they knew how much our help would mean to the people who get it."

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