Bill Gates Prods Washington on Foreign Aid

Philanthropist Bill Gates urged lawmakers and the coming Obama administration to maintain U.S. investments in foreign aid and education initiatives despite the financial crisis.

Mr. Gates urged broad support for President-elect Barack Obama's pledge during the campaign to double U.S. foreign aid to $50 billion by 2012. "Since then, of course, we've been hit by the financial crisis, which has opened up a huge budget deficit and changed some people's view of what we can afford," Mr. Gates said. "If we can support the president as he stands by his pledge to the poorest nations -- even in the face of our own financial crisis -- it will make a phenomenal statement about the kind of partner America plans to be in the world."

The risk now, Mr. Gates noted, was that government funding for education and oversees development will be hit amid the current economic turmoil.

As co-chair of the world's largest private philanthropy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Gates has a bully pulpit to push for changes in areas where his foundation has chosen to invest its money, which include U.S. education, global health and development in poor countries.

[Wall Street Journal]

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