You know, our own government is looking at when do you cut back?
And it's a tricky thing, because almost everybody agrees we need to keep spending up, you know, not take all country deficits to zero right away. But over time, you have to move in that direction. And so getting the timing right on this is -- is a very tough challenge.
TAPPER: So do you think that there needs to be another stimulus to keep spending up?
GATES: In terms of the U.S. in particular, lots of people, you know, have views that plus and minus on that in terms of if you did a -- a smaller stimulus, where exactly would you target?
You know, our $16 billion for energy R&D, that's a type of stimulus. That is creating jobs and it's a -- a nice investment in the future. So where you get a twofer like that, that feels particularly attractive that -- that you can do that.
TAPPER: Do you think the health care legislation is going to do enough to contain costs and control the deficit?
GATES: Well, the -- the health care bill broadened coverage. And there's a lot of...
TAPPER: Yeah, but beyond that, do you think it's going to contain...
GATES: Well, in terms of cost containment, that step alone, in my view, is at most the start of how we look at not letting medical costs continue to go up. The projection is they'll continue to go up.
And it creates a dilemma that if the government is funding those costs and if you're -- you know, you feel your taxation levels are going to hit some -- some limit, then what are you taking money away from?
You're not going to take it away from your Social Security. You're not going to take it away from paying the debt.
It's a tough problem.
So if we could innovate to reduce those increases in costs that would be great. And I think there's a lot of work to be done there, you know, people – In some respects may be tired of hearing about health care, but in terms of really reducing the costs, no. The -- the years ahead, that's going to -- a lot of experts and politicians are going to have to -- to think about how that's achieved.
TAPPER: Last month, Apple passed Microsoft in market capitalization, making -- it marked a historic moment where -- where Microsoft lost its status as the largest tech company in the world.
Why did this happen?
And -- do you still have confidence in CEO, Steve Ballmer?
GATES: Oh, Microsoft is doing a lot of great stuff. I mean the software industry, you know, the opportunities are -- are pretty phenomenal. You know, the way that people think about TV, the way they think about reading, about learning, software is going to revolutionize that. Our company and our stock has gone up, it's gone down. And, you know, we've been the most valuable, not the most valuable. It -- you know, that's -- that changed and it will change again and again and again.
There's room for more than one company to succeed in the industry. I -- I happen to like the things that Steve's -- Steve's doing. It's not my full-time work, but as a -- a board member, you know, I -- I see a lot of great things going on.
TAPPER: Bill Gates, thanks so much for joining us.
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LENO: Eighty-nine-year-old White House reporter Helen Thomas is retiring. I'm going to be the first to say, "Mazel tov."
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(UNKNOWN): The Democratic Senate nominee in South Carolina, Alvin Greene...
(UNKNOWN): Oh, Alvin.
(UNKNOWN): ... is a mystery man.