《经济学人》:捉摸不透的财政大臣
日期:2011-04-12 10:59

(单词翻译:单击)

The inscrutable chancellor捉摸不透的财政大臣The Osborne identity奥斯本身份之谜

As he prepares for his second budget, the chancellor of the exchequer remains a mystery to many in Westminster
奥斯本正酝酿上任后第二份财政预算,对于西敏斯特的众议员来说,这位财政大臣依旧是个谜。

NO OTHER office of state carries the mystique of chancellor of the exchequer, a job that comes with almost prime-ministerial power but only a rare duty to enter the spotlight. The next of these occasions comes on March 23rd, when George Osborne delivers his second budget. Coalition government has left him even less visible, and less understood, than he might have been: Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, has become the second face of the coalition, alongside David Cameron, the prime minister.

没有其他的政府职务会比财政大臣一职更为神秘。财政大臣一职虽权比首相但是很少抛头露面。而这样的情况将在3月23日再次得到印证,届时,奥斯本将公布他的第二份财政预算。由于政府是联合执政,这让本来让人捉摸不透的他变得愈发神秘,愈发不为人所知。代表自民党的副首相尼克克莱格成了执政联盟的“二把手”,仅次于首相卡梅隆。

Mr Osborne’s elusiveness would matter less, were the gap between his public profile and his influence smaller. His plan virtually to eliminate the structural deficit in this parliament is the government’s main task; the parallel project to reform the public services takes place within budgetary limits set by him. But his sway extends beyond the Treasury, where his seriousness and technical command have surprised civil servants who expected the neophyte of popular pre-general election caricature. Mr Osborne also does much of the government’s political thinking. He is often the dominant voice in the kind of strategy meetings—many of which Mr Cameron lets him chair—in which he first shone as a young adviser in the 1990s.

如果奥斯本先生的公共形象和他的影响力没有如此显著的差异的话,他的不为人知也就不那么重要了。但是他提出的计划事实上是要在本届议会中通过一项消除结构赤字的提案,而这恰好是政府的主要任务。同时开展的公共服务改革项目也在他制定的预算限制内进行。在财政部,他以严肃的作风和专业的指令让众多公务员大吃一惊,他们原以为他只是一个初出茅庐,在预选中大受欢迎的政治新手罢了。但是他的影响并不仅限于财政部内。同时,许多政府的政治决策也是由他在运筹帷幄。他的声音主导着这类政策会议——其中的许多会议卡梅隆交由他来主持——早在90年代时,他就以年轻的顾问的形象首次在这类会议中脱颖而出。

He had few allies in the Conservative Party in opposition, but a support base is now growing under him. His special advisers are the best in the government. There are “Osbornite” MPs, such as Matthew Hancock and Greg Hands. His stock has risen on his party’s right: many who once mistrusted his desire to move the Tories to the centre ground now see him as a more vigilant guardian of Tory views in the coalition than Mr Cameron.

在保守党内部他没什么盟友,但是越来越多的人支持他。他的特别顾问都是政府里的精英。还有一些“奥斯本方阵”的议员,譬如马修汉考克和格雷戈汉斯。同时他也获得更多右翼人士的青睐:很多人曾怀疑他希望保守党逐渐走向中间路线的动机,但现在他们认为他在执政联盟中能比卡梅隆更忠诚地捍卫保守党的观点。

None of this means that Mr Osborne is the “real” prime minister, as some maintain. Mr Cameron’s decisions ultimately carry the day. Neither is their relationship anything like as fraught as that between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Mr Osborne is ambitious but knows that any opportunity to lead his party or country is years away. He also knows that, as our pre-budget opinion poll demonstrates (see article), voters are yet to warm to him.

但是也有人认为,这一切并不意味着奥斯本就是“真正”的首相。说到底,还是卡梅隆说了算。而且他们之间的关系完全不似戈登布朗和托尼布莱尔之间那样令人担忧。奥斯本先生虽踌躇满志,但是他明白还要过几年才能有机会担任党魁或者国家元首。同时他清楚的知道,正如《经济学家》在预算公布前开展的民意测验所显示的那样,选民们对他还是不感冒。

Still, grasping the differences between the two men is crucial to understanding how the government works. The contrast between Mr Osborne, a lifelong metropolitan, and Mr Cameron, a son of the rural home counties, is often said to lie in the former’s social liberalism. But Mr Osborne is more liberal on moral issues such as abortion and gay rights than on law and order. And on foreign policy, Mr Cameron would get an easier ride at a trendy London dinner party than hawkish Mr Osborne.

即便如此,搞清楚这两人之间的不同对于了解政府的运作是必不可少的。奥斯本和卡梅隆的不同之处在于奥斯本主张社会自由主义:奥斯本在大城市里出生长大,而卡梅隆则来自农村地区的一个小县城。但是比起法制问题,奥斯本在许多道德问题上比如堕胎和同性恋权利方面更倾向于自由。在外交政策上,假如卡梅隆和鹰派作风的奥斯本共同出席一场伦敦的时尚宴会的话,卡梅隆可能会更受欢迎。

The real difference between them lies in their approach to politics. Mr Osborne is obsessed with winning. He is less moved by abstract ideas such as the “Big Society”. He is more inclined to belligerence towards political opponents, whether they be trade unions or the Labour Party. Some Tories think they would now be governing alone had Mr Osborne run last year’s election campaign by himself.

他们两人最根本的区别在于从政之道。奥斯本渴望胜利。他对于一些类似于“大社会”之类的抽象理念不那么感兴趣。对于政治对手,他更愿意“奉陪到底”, 不论是工会还是工党。一些保守党人认为要是去年的大选由奥斯本来参选的话,现在他们已经单独掌权了。

This hunger for victory comes from tasting multiple defeats as an adviser. Mr Cameron at least worked on the Tories’ triumphant 1992 election campaign (Mr Osborne was still a student) and took a sojourn in business during the party’s dog days later in the 1990s (Mr Osborne never left Westminster). The chancellor clocked that the Tories needed to soften their right-wing image long before Mr Cameron did.

这种对于胜利的渴望来自他担任顾问期间多次的失败经历。至少,卡梅隆在1992保守党大选胜出时有所作为(当时奥斯本还是学生),之后在90年代末期保守党光景惨淡时还短暂从商(奥斯本从未走出西敏斯特)。这位财政大臣曾经抨击保守党人告诫他们需要淡化自身的右倾形象。这一主张远早于卡梅隆。

In his economics, however, Mr Osborne is an old-fashioned Conservative. His free-market instincts sometimes show; he once flirted with the idea of a “flat”, rather than progressive, income tax. He has been restrained in punishing the banking sector for its part in the financial crisis.

但是在经济方面,奥斯本则是老派保守党作风。他有时会展现出自己骨子里对自由市场的支持。他曾经尝试以“固定”所得税代替累进所得税。在惩罚银行在金融危机中扮演的角色时,他表现得十分克制持重。

But, when it comes to the public finances, Mr Osborne is a sober fiscal hawk rather than a gung-ho Reaganite tax-cutter. Perhaps his best judgment came in opposition, in the period before the financial crash, when he resisted calls from the right to promise an overall tax cut. The subsequent crisis vindicated him, but Britain’s relapse into negative growth in the last quarter has brought new demands for tax cuts, or, from the left, slower spending cuts. Voters are worried, as our poll shows.

但是,涉及到公共财政时,奥斯本是一个头脑清醒的财务鹰派人士,而不是激进的里根式减税者。可能恰恰是在反对减税上,他做出了最明智的决定:在金融危机的前夕,他顶住右翼要求整体减税的呼声。随后的金融危机证实了他的英明所在。但是英国经济在去年最后一个季度再次陷入负增长,减税之诉求卷土重来,左翼则号召缩减开支。正如我们的民意测验所显示的那样,选民们现在有些担忧。

Committed as he is to austerity, in his budget Mr Osborne is likelier to reform taxes than to cut them. That commitment is a political as well as an economic gamble: a double-dip, or even prolonged slow growth, would wound him. The economy will determine whether his credibility keeps soaring, or has already peaked.

尽管他致力于财政紧缩,但是在预算中奥斯本更有可能改革而不是减少税收。这种努力既是一场政治赌博,也是一场经济冒险:若出现二次探底,甚至更长时期的缓慢增长,都会对他不利。经济的起伏将决定他的信誉是继续飙升,还是就此打住。

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重点单词
  • graspingadj. 贪心的,贪婪的 adj. 抓的,紧紧抓住的 动
  • hawkn. 鹰,掠夺别人的人,鹰派人物 n. 清嗓 v. 用训
  • seriousnessn. 严肃,认真
  • strategyn. 战略,策略
  • overalladj. 全部的,全体的,一切在内的 adv. 总的来说
  • liberaladj. 慷慨的,大方的,自由主义的 n. 自由主义者,
  • budgetn. 预算 vt. 编预算,为 ... 做预算 vi.
  • socialadj. 社会的,社交的 n. 社交聚会
  • eliminatev. 除去,剔除; 忽略
  • deputyadj. 代理的,副的 n. 代表,副手