For this year’s annual letter, Bill and Melinda Gates took on 10 tough questions people ask about their philanthropy work. Here’s what the Microsoft founder, shown here in Tanzania, said about President Donald Trump and the impact on United States foreign aid policies:
How are President Trump’s policies affecting your foundation’s work?
In the past year, I’ve been asked about President Trump and his policies more often than all the other topics in this letter combined.
The administration’s policies affect our foundation’s work in a number of areas. The most concrete example is foreign aid. For decades the United States has been a leader in the fight against disease and poverty abroad. These efforts save lives. They also create U.S. jobs. And they make Americans more secure by making poor countries more stable and stopping disease outbreaks before they become pandemics. The world is not a safer place when more people are sick or hungry.
President Trump proposed severe cuts to foreign aid. To its credit, Congress has moved to put the money back in the budget. It’s better for the United States when it leads, through both hard power and soft power.
More broadly, the America First worldview concerns me. It’s not that the United States shouldn’t look out for its people. The question is how best to do that. My view is that engaging with the world has proven over time to benefit everyone, including Americans, more than withdrawing does. Even if we measured everything the government did only by how much it helped American citizens, global engagement would still be a smart investment.
We have met with President Trump and his team, just as we have met with people in previous administrations. With every administration—Republican and Democrat—we agree on some things and disagree on others. Although we disagree with this administration more than the others we’ve met with, we believe it’s still important to work together whenever possible. We keep talking to them because if the U.S. cuts back on its investments abroad, people in other countries will die, and Americans will be worse off.
To see the complete letter and answers, check this Gates Notes link.
Image: Gates Foundation