《经济学人》:美国政府面临倒闭风险
日期:2011-04-08 11:20

(单词翻译:单击)

Time to stop play-acting and spit out the tea
是时候停止演戏,摒弃茶党思维了

The Republicans are not being serious about the deficit
共和党人没有认真对待赤字问题

THIRTY billion dollars is a lot of money for anyone except America’s government. In Washington it is a bagatelle: about what the feds spend in three days, or less than 2% of the predicted budget deficit for this year. Yet in the peculiar battle that is now raging over the budget for a fiscal year already half over, $30 billion is all that now separates the Republicans and the Democrats, who have been bickering for the past 14 months over the details. Because neither side thinks it can afford to back down, the risks of a government shutdown are rising fast; without an agreement, the government will run out of money on April 8th.

300亿美元对任何人来说都是一笔巨款,但对美国政府来说不是。对华盛顿来讲,300亿美元只是小菜一碟:大概相当于联邦政府三天的开销,预计还不到今年财政赤字的2%。然而在这场持续了将近半个财政年度的罕见战争中,就是这300亿美元成为了共和党人和民主党人的分歧所在,在过去的14个月中双方一直在为细节问题争吵不休。因双方均不想为之让步,政府倒闭的风险正迅速增加;如果达不成协议,到4月8日政府将无运转资金。

Some irresponsible people, on both sides of the political aisle, think that a temporary shutdown would not matter all that much. A fair few Democrats hope that the Republicans will be blamed for their intransigence, as they were at the time of the last shutdown, in 1995-96 (though they may be disappointed on that score, since public opinion swung against the Republicans in 1996 only after their leader, Newt Gingrich, made a fool of himself over a seat on Air Force One). Those of a tea-partyish persuasion imagine that they will be politically rewarded by their supporters for sticking to their guns, and that the only good government is one on enforced leave.

两党中有些不负责任的人认为政府暂时倒闭不会有太大影响。相当一部分民主党人认为毫不让步的共和党人应受谴责,正如1995-1996年间政府倒闭时共和党人备受指责一样(虽然对此他们倍感失望,因为1996年公众批评共和党人完全是因为其党首纽特·金里奇为了空军一号的一个座位而犯傻)。那些持茶党思维的人认为坚守立场会得到其支持者的政治支持,而且一个好政府是被迫“休假”的政府。

In the short term, it is true, a shutdown would be far from catastrophic; soldiers will continue to fight; aircraft will not collide; Social Security (pensions) cheques will mostly continue to be automatically sent out. But it would still be highly disruptive, not least for government employees who will not get paid, and it will inconvenience people and businesses in countless ways. That is no small matter while the recovery remains so fragile.

确实,短期来讲,政府关门绝不是什么灾难性事件;士兵会继续战斗,飞机不会坠毁,绝大部分社会保险也会自动发放。但它仍极具杀伤力,特别是对那些拿不到薪水的政府工作人员。它也将给公众和企业带来诸多不便。在经济恢复仍旧脆弱的背景下,这绝不是什么小事。

More worrying than a shutdown itself would be its implications. If the politicians’ attempts to resolve one year’s budget end in acrimonious collapse, what hope is there of reaching agreement on issues that require both sides to take much more political punishment? Later in April another battle looms, this time over the need for an extension to America’s debt limit, currently set at $14.3 trillion and now very close to being reached. A row over the fiscal 2011 budget might not alarm investors too much; a fight over authorising money that ultimately could be needed to pay international creditors is quite another thing.

比政府倒闭更让人担忧的是其暗示意义。如果政治家们解决一年预算问题的努力都付诸东流,两党严重分裂,那又有什么希望让双方接受更多的政治让步,就诸多议题达成一致呢?四月后期另一场战役也会打响,这场战役关于是否需要放宽美国的债务限额。目前债务限额为14.3万亿美元,且已逼近底线。因2011年财政预算产生的严重分歧可能并不会使投资者过度担忧;最终可能还需要政府资金支付欠债权国的债务,而就这笔资金产生的争论则是另外一种景象了。

And then, of course, comes the even greater challenge of dealing with America’s medium-term fiscal problems, driven mainly by an ageing population and the steadily rising cost of health-care programmes. Even once the economy has wholly recovered from the recession, these factors mean that the country faces a structural deficit of around 3%, which is not sustainable. When a bipartisan commission sketched out a way forward at the end of last year, Barack Obama and the Republican leadership raced to distance themselves from its conclusions. A government forced to live hand-to-mouth, funded by stopgap resolutions for a few weeks at a time, hardly looks like one that can calmly negotiate the radical overhaul of the American state that is needed.

当然,接下来更大的挑战是如何解决美国的中期财政问题。这一问题主要是由人口老龄化和医改项目支出逐步上涨引起的。即使美国经济完全摆脱衰退,实现复苏,这些因素也将导致该国的结构性赤字率接近3%,不利于可持续经济复苏。去年底,两党连立的委员会概述解决问题的方法时,贝拉克·奥巴马和共和党领导人却相互竞争,企图摆脱其结论束缚。一个被迫依赖每几周制定一次权宜之计以勉强维持生计的政府似乎无法平心静气地协调必需政策,彻底检修美国政府。

Stop the play-acting
停止演戏

Both sides must shoulder some of the blame for the steadily worsening atmosphere on Capitol Hill. The Democrats have failed repeatedly, most recently with Mr Obama’s dishonest budget for the next fiscal year, to indicate how they intend to repair the nation’s finances. Yet even set against that miserable standard, it is the Republicans who deserve most criticism. While extracting many concessions from the Democrats, they have made precious few themselves. And while spinelessly failing to explain how the deficit might be controlled in the medium term, conservatives have vaingloriously demanded more cuts in the short term than should be inflicted on an economy as weak as America’s now is.

两党必须为国会不断恶化的氛围承担部分责任。民主党屡遭挫败,最近一次受挫是奥巴马总统提出的不切实际的下一年财政预算,这也反映了他们迫切期望改善国家财政状况。然而权衡利弊,即使这一标准有失公允,最该受批评的仍是共和党人。虽然民主党人被迫做出许多让步,共和党人却几乎未履行自身职责。保守党人一方面没有骨气解释如何控制中期赤字,另一方面却虚荣自负,过分要求削减短期财政赤字,这会使本已脆弱不堪的美国经济雪上加霜。

Left to himself, John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, would probably make a deal to avoid a shutdown. But he is cowed by the new intake of theatrical extremists bent on playing at budget discipline rather than achieving it. It is time he showed some leadership. If he does not, it bodes ill for both his party and America.

孤身作战的众议院共和党议长约翰・博纳很有可能会妥协以力避政府倒闭。但他也面临着矫揉造作的极端分子带来的威胁,这些人只是借预算问题表演,从不解决问题。他应该展示领导权威了。否则对共和党、对美国都不利。

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重点单词
  • radicaladj. 激进的,基本的,彻底的 n. 激进分子
  • challengen. 挑战 v. 向 ... 挑战
  • ultimatelyadv. 最后,最终
  • shouldern. 肩膀,肩部 v. 扛,肩负,承担,(用肩)推挤
  • socialadj. 社会的,社交的 n. 社交聚会
  • budgetn. 预算 vt. 编预算,为 ... 做预算 vi.
  • intransigencen. 不妥协,不让步
  • avoidvt. 避免,逃避
  • securityn. 安全,防护措施,保证,抵押,债券,证券
  • commissionn. 委员会,委托,委任,佣金,犯罪 vt. 委任,委托