TAPPER: You know, some experts believe that the only way to spur the kind of innovation and investment in these alternative forms of energy is to dissuade the American people and American enterprise from using oil and gasoline. Do you think that a gas tax is necessary?
GATES: The -- that's not specifically necessary. You need some source of funding for this R&D. And, you know, so you would take some parts of the energy sector and -- and raise the money there. If you -- if you want people to switch, there's two ways to do it. One is to invent something that's lower cost. The other is to raise the cost of the thing that's forcing us to fund the military or creating climate problems and -- and help the new technology. The bulk of what's missing right now that will force us, at some point, to go for a very expensive alternative because we haven't done invention, is the -- this -- this R&D piece isn't getting done.
TAPPER: Why do you think that the innovation and technology that's part of the oil industry hasn't advanced enough in the last 30 years, I mean to -- to plug this hole in the Gulf, they're using basically the same technology as they used 20 or 30 years ago?
Why have -- hasn't that advanced?
GATES: Well, certainly, in retrospect, they needed to invest more in these deep sea operations. Deep sea operation is fairly complicated in terms of pressures and temperatures how materials behave down there. And obviously, you know, now they're seeing the cost of not doing that. That will be reinforced in a lot of ways.
So that particular innovation will happen. But you're going to get oil in very hard places. With other energy sources, over time, you wouldn't have to try that hard you wouldn't have to be bringing most of it out of the Middle East, where, you know, the chance of something disrupting that in the years ahead is -- is very measurable and -- and we're not -- we're not setting ourselves up to get rid of that over time.
TAPPER: So tell us what areas you're looking at.
GATES: Well, the idea of the Council's report is that you -- you fund R&D very broadly with an open mind. You don't just pick and say it will be synthetic fuels or hydrogen or fuel cells, but you get behind all of those things and you create metrics. In the solar area alone, there's so many different approaches -- solar thermal, solar chemical, solar electric -- and many different scientists. And that's the beauty of America, is you -- you can have hundreds of teams pursuing those things. And as they meet milestones, they can get more funding.
TAPPER: The economic recovery has been slow and relatively jobless.
What do you think President Obama needs to do?
GATES: Well, the president can't just pull the levers and -- and make the economy take off. You know, the right emergency steps were taken and...
TAPPER: So you support the stimulus and the TARP program?
GATES: Well, you don't -- I don't think I need to get into the particulars. And it's easy looking back to say, OK, you could have tuned this or that. The incredible measures needed to be taken to make sure there wasn't a collapse, both in terms of stabilizing the financial system and then priming the pump of the economy, because it had been slowed down so much.
Now, we're seeing the benefits that those things have been done. Now this is an international problem.
And so everybody's dad is coming in, you know, are -- are those governments over spending?