November 19th, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Bill Gates: I just don’t see room for education cuts

"Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

Fareed Zakaria spoke with billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates on Global Public Square and heard his take on the election, science and America’s budget priorities.

Are you happy with the outcome of the election?

Well, now we have certainty about who’s going to be in the leadership. And, they’ve got a very challenging budget situation. I’m quite hopeful that they will find a way to reach a compromise, while not cutting the key investments in the future, whether it's helping poor countries or funding research in the U.S., funding the education system. You know, now, we’ve got several months here of very important negotiations.

When you look at that issue of investment, are we going to have enough money to spend on key investments in science, research, technology? We’re doing less as a percent of the budget than we used to do a generation ago.

I’m quite worried about that. The election didn’t get very specific about how people are going to cut discretionary spending without cutting into these things that are absolutely critical. And that’s where we need to get. We’ve got a gigantic deficit. The only way you deal with it is either through revenue – I think people agree there’s got to be some of that. But if you're looking over 10 years at $8 trillion to $10 trillion, can that be more than 20, 25 percent?

So then you’ve got cutting entitlements – how willing are people to cut those…and do they have really good ideas? And once you get past those two, then you’re down to the discretionary, a lot of which are very basic programs. You know, we fund the world’s medical research through the National Institutes of Health. Our foreign aid budget is treating five million people for AIDS. We’re going to fund the eradication of polio. And so now, we’re going to have to get concrete. It was all generalities about, oh, it’s easy to cut these things. Well, it’s never been easy to cut the budgets. People are going to have to say which parts they think are unnecessary. And areas like education, I just don’t see room to cut if we’re going to take the young people and our future and do what we need to do.

Should all Americans go to four year colleges or should we do something that is more familiar in Europe, which is stream, in a sense, and have some really diverted to two year colleges, perhaps one year diplomas, in skills?

Well, certainly not everybody is going to go to four years. We don’t have the capacity for that. And it, you know, it's probably not a fit. We have lots of jobs, that don’t require a four year degree. The number that require just high school or that a high school drop out can do, those are shrinking a lot. And we do see a shortage in the four year degree area. So we need to shift people over. But not everyone. We need great two year programs. And a lot of those are actually the best, because they're so connected locally with the employer. You know, I need welders. I need pilots. I need nurses. It’s wonderful to see when they're there…the two year sector is very, very important.

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Topics: 2012 Election • Education

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. joe anon 1

    maybe if gates and buffet stopped hiding their billions in foundations, private banks and employers for their families, the govt could operate.

    November 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Reply
    • Chris Anon

      Maybe you can read up on the Buffet rule and how both of them encourage the government to tax the rich more, including themselves... before you judge them.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Reply
      • AmerianPAtriot1

        Don't know where you live bud ...but we live in America and that gives us the right to ask questions taking your judgemental talk elsewhere.

        November 20, 2012 at 3:31 am |
      • joe anon 1

        yes, and both have hidden their wealth in the tax haven called foundation.

        November 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
      • TexTeacher

        Chris Anon is right. Gates might be very rich but he has sure spent millions helping the poor and to advance education. He has even gone public that his children will Not inherit all. He wants them to be well educated and to earn their own. He did not give specific example of spoiled rich young people out there now but we have a pretty good idea who he had in mind. He quit being the CEO of his own company to make sure his millions are going to good causes.

        November 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Murat

      I'm actually going to take you seriously: Gates has say $50 billion. Lets assume he is "hiding" it all, instead of funding research as he actually does. Lets assume he pays zero taxes. He could make a handsome 10% with that capital every year. That's $5 billion. Capital gains tax rate is 15%, so government is missing $0.75 billion. Forecasted deficit is $1 trillion. You know, a slightly higher figure.

      November 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Reply
    • Johnny Wintips

      Just another mindless talking head, aren't you? Gates has done more in terms of philanthropy than you could imagine. Buffett has pledged to donate 99% of his fortune. What have you done? Better question: what will you EVER do?

      November 26, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
    • joe anon 1

      thats fine, but i can lick my own a$$.

      November 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    Just look at Brazil, where the country doesn't do a proper job to educate its population and has to import qualified labour forces to satisfy its economic needs, the US is much better off. Nevertheless, other countries are catching up. A good education is key to a country's peace and stability.

    November 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  3. Tyrone


    I have a program that will change the country forever for the better! The program is simple and easy to put in place! It would involve giving every American (rich to dirt poor) $2,100! At birth every American will receive $2,100! This money from the Federal Government has condition! It would result in a “EVERYDAY” stimulus package! Let me let you understand! First you must understand America start. American was founded on white racism and a unequal unfair disrespect of non-whites! Slavery allowed whites to establish financial foundation over non-whites. It devalue non-white financially mentally and socially! Ones slavery was over white wealth prove to be unsustainable! Some whites kept and re-invested and sustain their wealth and were able to give to their next generation.

    Because of slavery Capitalism still to this day has some of slavery’s characteristic that re-enforce the historical racist foundation. It also helps in keeping dirt poor and a super rich society! Like American businesses sending American jobs oversea for bigger profits! Or cutting salary and benefits of employee at the same time increasing CEO salary by 100%! This practice is an American learn behavior and the reason America. Can not bring equality to all American financially and socially.

    1. Every American receive $2,100 at birth place in a investment bank!
    2. $1,300 of the $2,100 place in a Mutual Fund. $200 in saving that can’t be touch until age 35 to earn interest. The interest goes into your Mutual Fund!
    3. Age 21 is the age the account can be touch AT THAT TIME:
    1. $100 go to Federal Government,
    2. $50 go to you city
    3. $50 go into state health care Fund
    4. $50 go into higher education fund
    5. $10 go into a wrongful incarceration Fund to the state..TOTAL: $260

    1. You must be born in America!
    2. You must have a High School Diploma
    3. If you are not 21 and do not have a High School Diploma your account “CAN NOT” be activated until either. You get you High School Diploma or reach age 45!
    3. If you are 21 and “DO NOT” have a High School Diploma you account will be activated. Your account will be penalize $300 dollars! That will be reimburse ones you get your High School Diploma!


    1. You need $2,100 place in an investment bank
    2. You need to be criminal free and 5 years clean of criminal activity while waiting for citizenship!
    3.You need to remain 5 year clean of criminal activity after receiving citizenship or face a $2,100 dollar fine!
    1. $100 go to Federal Government,
    2. $50 go to you city
    3. $50 go into state health care Fund
    4. $50 go into higher education fund
    5. $10 go into a wrongful incarceration Fund to the state..TOTAL: $260
    1. At the bank you will receive a photo ID verifying citizenship
    2. At 21 you will receive another photo ID...
    3. If a non-citizen YOU receive a green card until you become a citizen!


    President Obama and former President G.W. Bush stimulus money went to the people that cause America’s financial downfall. My program gives to the American citizen to give to the same people. Where all Americans benefit!

    November 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Gates must not be getting all the programmers from China and India he wants?????

    he has been one of the worst to hire from off shore.........not because of skills, but because he wants cheaper labor.

    November 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • TexTeacher

      No, America is not producing them fast enough. I know! I teach the subject. States like Texas are more into "Fine Arts" and Football and the heck with Computer Technology, Science, and Math. Parents let kids drop out of these classes because they are "too hard." Many school boards and school administrators don't know the difference between Computer Science and Computer Applications and at the same push more for Fine Arts. All we get is a bunch of future dancers, band players, and starving artist.

      November 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  5. Skorpio

    The US spends MUCH MORE on education than any other country in the world, the problem is the distribution of that money. Just compare the curricula of an average US school to an average South Korean school and see that Asians do not spend any time in sports or worthless subjects such as head start, life skills, drama, debate, cooking, etc.

    November 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  6. rightospeak

    Mr. Gates may be a genius when it comes to computers , but his view of economics and society is very naive. For one ,he is a GLOBALIST worried about the rest of the world and not the U.S. He is known for his monopolistic practices more in Europe than here. He likes Globalism , which give him a monopolistic edge. If things get bad in the US ,he is very likely to move to China. He is just another Soros preaching. The US spent more on education than other people and are pumping out illiterates and young people with no skills to face the world in our high schools. We overproduced highly educated people for generations with no prospecs for a decent job-the jobs were offshored by GLOBALISTS to India , China.Mr. Gates does not seem to be aware that our endless wars wasted trillions.

    November 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  7. Dorothy

    People in the United States tend to equate education with formal classroom instruction. It may be useful to consider that for thousands of years, human beings gained their education primarily from their parents or neighbors in home classrooms or small "one room schoolhouse" types of instructional settings and from apprenticeships. With technology now offering a previously unavailable opportunity for the dissemination of knowledge, perhaps traditional educational formats in the USA will experience a transformation once again.

    November 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  8. SQL Server Blows Bill


    Why don't you focus on a simple db driver so that I can connect to your stupid sql server without pulling my hair out. I said simple.
    After that, you can tackle something else. You seem to leave alot of stones unturned buddy.

    November 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Reply
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