President Barack Obama met with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates this morning at the White House to discuss the economy and the billionaires’ philanthropic endeavors, an administration official said.
Obama called for the Oval Office meeting, which also included Gates’ wife, Melinda, to discuss the Giving Pledge project, started by Buffett and Gates to encourage wealthy U.S. individuals and families to give most of their fortunes to charity, the administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
They also talked about U.S. economic competitiveness, including boosting investments in education, the official said.
The meeting with Gates and Buffett comes on the eve of Obama’s summit with about 20 business leaders including General Electric Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt and Google Inc. Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt to discuss issues related to economic growth including exports, regulation, the budget deficit. The U.S. education system also is on the agenda for that meeting.
Buffett, 80, has committed 99 percent of his fortune, estimated by Forbes in September at $45 billion, in donations that are scheduled to continue after his death. His gifts to charities, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, fund programs aimed at easing world hunger, boosting education in the U.S. and promoting access to abortions.
Gates, 55, and Buffett have signed up Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison and filmmaker George Lucas for the Giving Pledge. In September, Buffett and Gates traveled to China and met with some of the country’s richest people to discuss philanthropy.
The number of Giving Pledge participants in the U.S. has risen to 57 since the project was announced in June, according to a Dec. 9 statement.