"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.