The world’s richest technology entrepreneur and leading philanthropist came to Washington on Dec. 3 with a simple message for President-elect Barack Obama, reports the Washington Post: Increase spending – especially for education and technology. Against the backdrop of a recession, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said the federal government must increase deficit spending to stimulate the economy and help the country’s most vulnerable residents. Gates said new investments are critical to building on recent improvements in U.S. public education and fighting disease abroad, which he said could be reversed if spending dries up. Gates, who has used his fortune to build the world’s largest foundation, redefining the meaning of mega-philanthropist, said his foundation will increase the amount of its grants next year, despite declines in its $35 billion endowment caused by the sagging economy. He called on Obama to follow through on his campaign commitment to double U.S. foreign assistance to $50 billion by the end of his first term. "In a crisis, there is always a risk that you take your eyes off the future and you sacrifice long-term investments for short-term gains," Gates said in a speech at George Washington University. "You have to seek both. … We should have a bigger goal than getting the economy growing again. I think we should expand the number of people who are contributing to the economy and benefiting from it." Gates described the financial crisis as an opportunity for innovation, likening it to the economic woes of the 1970s, which gave rise to America’s information technology boom, during which Microsoft was born. "Difficult times can launch great ideas," he said…

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