Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates says the U.S. economy needs considerable time to recover from the recent recession and that taxpayers are going to have to shoulder much of that burden.
Gates, who remains chairman of Microsoft but spends most of his time working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke on the Jan. 25 edition of ABC's "Good Morning America." During the interview, Gates said he generally supports the economic policies of President Obama but that the country needs to prepare for several years of hardship before the economy stabilizes.
"Without changes in taxes or entitlement policies, it won't get back into balance," Gates said. "Taxes are going to have to go up and entitlements are going to have to be moderated."
Although Gates talked about policies and programs that will have to be modified to work within the new economic reality, he said Obama should continue to focus the government's efforts on long-term goals, such as improving education. Gates also encouraged the United States to continue its financial aid to poor and developing countries, such as Haiti.
Gates' TV interview comes just a few days before Obama is set to deliver his first official State of the Union address. The administration has already begun developing plans to further stimulate the economy, including taxing major banks and financial institutions. Gates said he supported this type of plan.
However, Gates did point out that government does not have all the answers and noted that the U.S. recovery will be neither quick nor painless.
"He inherited a very tough situation," Gates said. "The financial markets were stabilized ... now we're having a slow recovery. Everybody's frustrated by the pace of the recovery. When you have a financial crisis like that, it's years of digging out."
Also on Jan. 25, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released its second annual letter, which restated the foundation's goals, such as developing vaccines to fight disease in developing countries, increasing agricultural productivity, and encouraging students and educators both in the United States and overseas.
"Although innovation is unpredictable," Gates wrote, "there is a lot that governments, private companies and foundations can do to accelerate it. Rich governments need to spend more on research and development, for instance, and we need better measurement systems in health and education to determine what works."
As of September, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had an endowment of about $34 billion, according to the annual letter.
Gates has been re-engaging with the public. In just the past few days, Gates restarted his Facebook page and launched his own Twitter feed. In addition, he started a Website called Gates Notes, which looks at a range of international issues.