As the world’s elite convenes in Davos, Switzerland, for the 2023 World Economic Forum (WEF), all eyes will be on the attendees gathering to discuss top political and economic issues.
President Biden won’t be among the WEF guests this year, though the U.S. is sending a delegation of officials. Meanwhile at home, the impending debt limit crisis continues to loom over Washington.
Here are the top three stories in politics to watch this week:
Biden skips Davos
President Biden is skipping the World Economic Forum and instead sending a delegation of officials, including Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and climate envoy John Kerry.
Former President Trump did not attend the WEF in 2019 but appeared at the gathering of world elites in 2018 and 2020, despite pressure from his former adviser Steve Bannon to not be seen as too much of a globalist by attending the forum.
With the exception of Trump’s attendance, Biden skipping the event is not unusual for presidents in recent decades: Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush all skipped Davos during their presidencies.
A number of senators will be in attendance, however. CNBC reported that Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) are attending this year’s meetings.
Yellen to meet with Chinese Vice Premier
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He while traveling abroad in Zurich, Switzerland, on Wednesday, marking the first time Yellen will meet with her Chinese counterpart.
The meeting this week follows up Biden’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last November on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia. It comes as China has faced increased scrutiny over its zero-COVID policies that prompted rare protests within the world’s second-largest economy.
The U.S.-China talks also follow news that China’s population shrank by 850,000 last year to 1.4 billion people — the first time China’s population has declined since the 1960s, according to CNN.
New economic data showed that China’s GDP grew by 3% in 2022, which beat analysts’ expectations slightly but still notched the second-worst year of GDP growth in China since 1976, according to the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. nears debt limit
The U.S. is expected to hit its debt limit on Thursday, according to a letter Sec. Yellen sent to Congress at the end of last week. The Treasury Department will use “extraordinary measures” to keep paying the government’s bills on time, but that will likely run out sometime toward the end of the summer.
The so-called “X Date,” when the government can no longer fulfill its obligations, is set to kick off what could be the most contentious political policy battle in quite some time.
Conservatives argue that there should be cuts to entitlement programs, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is signaling that Republicans will push to reduce government funding.
“Let’s sit down together — let’s look at the places that we can change our behavior,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in an interview on Fox News. “Why would we sit back and be so arrogant to say, ‘No, there’s no waste in government?’”
But that argument is not getting much traction from Democrats: “Fiscally demented” was how President Biden described Republicans on the issue when speaking at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day breakfast in Washington on Monday.
Kevin Cirilli is a visiting media fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub and the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. Follow him on LinkedIn here.
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