《经济学人》:奥巴马,可能败选的总统
日期:2011-06-14 10:42

(单词翻译:单击)

Barack Obama and the Republicans
奥巴马与共和党

A beatable president
能被击败的总统

But only if a Republican candidate starts laying out a sensible plan for the American economy
条件是共和党候选人开始为美国经济开出良方

Jun 9th 2011 | from the print edition

NEXT week a collection of largely unknown Republicans will hold the first proper TV debate of the 2012 presidential campaign. Whoever eventually wins their party’s nomination then has to take on Barack Obama, the giant of American politics. The president has a huge war-chest, his own party firmly behind him and a rare capacity to inspire. Yet he is vulnerable. This week a poll showed him in a dead heat with Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner. America’s sluggish recovery will give any challenger a chance. The question is whether any Republican has the personality and especially the ideas to take him on. For the best way to make this race competitive—and the best thing for America—is to force voters to confront the hard choices their country has to make.

下周,一群大都不知名的共和党人将举行2012年总统选举的第一次电视辩论。 无论谁获胜取得本党的题目都将面对奥巴马——这位美国政坛的巨人。总统有巨额的竞选经费,以及他的政党作为坚实的后盾,还有罕见的号召力。然而他仍然是脆弱的。本周的民调显示他与前美国麻州州长罗姆尼的支持率持平,后者现在可谓是共和党的领军式人物。美国经济迟缓恢复将为任何挑战者提供机会。问题在于是否任何共和党人都具有向奥巴马挑战所需的个人魅力特别是政纲。使这场竞赛更具竞争性的最好方式——以及对美国最有益的——是迫使选民直面这个国家的艰难抉择。

This time, Mr President, you are playing Goliath
这次,总统阁下,您的对手是巨无霸

In terms of the horse race, an incumbent president (especially if he is without a primary challenger) usually has a head start. While the Republicans spend the next year clobbering each other, Mr Obama can appear statesmanlike and husband his resources. His approval rating is in the 50s, better than Bill Clinton’s at this stage in the proceedings in 1995, before he went on to score a solid victory against Bob Dole in 1996.

以赛马为例,在任的总统(特别是没有主要竞争对手的在任总统)常常会领先一头。在共和党人相互攻击的时候,奥巴马先生将表现其政治家风范并有效利用其资源使出浑身解数。他的支持率在50多左右,比克林顿在1995年处于同样阶段时要好,而克林顿随后在1996年的选举中击败多尔获得连任。

But whereas that Clinton race should encourage Mr Obama, the previous one should worry him. In spring 1991 George Bush senior was coasting towards re-election; by November 1992 the president was toast—and the main reason was a sluggish economy. This recovery, in the wake of the worst financial shock since 1929, is even slower. Growth in the first quarter was a feeble 1.8%. The unemployment rate actually rose, to 9.1%, in May: the rate of job creation is barely keeping track with the natural increase in the working-age population. Twice as many Americans think the country is on the wrong track as the right one. Many of the places where Americans feel angriest are battleground states: Florida, Michigan and Ohio all saw big Republican gains in the 2010 mid-terms.

虽然克林顿的那场战役能鼓励奥巴马,也应使他感到担心。在1991年春天老布什的连任看起来将一帆风顺,第二年11月这位老总统的连任已经看不到任何希望——主要原因就是当时疲软的经济。经过这次自1929年来最严重的金融冲击之后,美国经济的恢复更为缓慢。首季度增长缓慢只有1.8%。 5月份失业率实际上升到9.1%:职位创造率只与劳动年龄人口增长率持平。三分之二的美国人认为国家经济已误入歧途,认为国家经济在正确轨道上的只有三分之一。那些最愤怒的美国人聚集在那些竞争最激烈的几个州:佛罗里达州,密歇根州和俄亥俄州,共和党中期选举时在这几个州都有明显收获。

In 2008 Mr Obama represented change. This time he will have to fend off charges that he is to blame for the achingly slow recovery by arguing that it would have been worse without his actions, such as his $800 billion stimulus package and the takeover of GM and Chrysler. That may be true but it is not easy to sell a counterfactual on the stump (as the first President Bush learned). And there are other holes in Mr Obama’s record. What happened to his promises to do something about the environment or immigration or Guantánamo? Why should any businessman support a chief executive who has let his friends in the labour movement run amok and who let his health-care bill be written by Democrats in Congress? Above all, why has he never produced a credible plan to tackle the budget deficit, currently close to 10% of GDP? Asking these questions will surely give any Republican a perch in this race. But to beat the president, the Republicans need both a credible candidate and credible policies.

2008年,奥巴马代表变化。这次他必须尽力挡开那些将此缓慢而痛苦的经济复苏归咎于他的指责,并主张假如没有他采取的行动——例如他的8千万美元刺激经济计划以及通用和克莱斯勒的收购——情况将会更糟。这或许是真的,但在竞选中向选民推销反事实并不是件容易的事(正如老布什学到的那样)。而奥巴马先生的记录上仍有其他漏洞。他对于改变环境、移民政策或关塔那摩监狱的承诺都怎么样了呢?为什么任何生意人要支持一个让其工人运动中的朋友们放任横行,或者一个借助国会内的民主党人通过其医疗改革计划的行政长官呢?更重要的而是,为什么他从未提出一个可信的计划以解决现今高至GDP10%的财政赤字?问出任何一个这样的问题都将给任何共和党人在此战争中获得一个先手。但是要战胜总统先生,共和党人需要一个可信的候选人和一个可信的政纲。

In terms of talent, the current line-up is not without hope (see article). Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty and Mr Romney have all been first-rate governors: they can claim the sort of hands-on experience of government that Mr Obama so signally lacked in 2008. Mr Romney could get it right this time (seeLexington); or the more charismatic Mr Huntsman could soar. All the same, there are other current and former governors who this newspaper wishes were in the race—notably Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels and Rick Perry. As for Sarah Palin, her antics are helping no one, other than Mr Obama; she should put up, or preferably shut up. Michele Bachmann, a right-wing congresswoman, can carry the tea-party banner.

就人才而言,现有的阵容也并非没有希望(参见此文)。洪博培、普兰提和罗姆尼都曾经是第一流的州长:他们可以声称各种奥巴马先生在2008年参选时显著缺少的实战经验。罗姆尼这次可以好好表现(参见Lexington);而洪博培若表现更得有号召力他的人气应该能上升。同样的,其他的现任或前任州长都是本刊物希望看到的参赛者——他们分别是杰布??布什、克里斯??克瑞斯蒂、米奇??丹尼尔斯和里克??佩里。至于莎拉??佩林,她的滑稽表演帮不了任何人,除了奥巴马先生;她应该振作,或者干脆闭嘴吧。右翼国会议员米歇尔??巴奇曼可以继续举着茶党的横幅。

Yes you can—if we can afford it
是的你可以——假如我们负担得起的话

Talent is less of a problem than policies. A serious Republican candidate must come up with answers to the two big problems facing America’s economy: how to get more people back to work, and how to fix the deficit. The first requires a swathe of bold structural reforms to boost jobs and growth, the second a credible plan to balance the books in the medium term that does not wreck the economy in the short term. When it comes to encouraging jobs, the Republican failure is largely one of inventiveness. They focus merely on tax cuts and slashing red tape. But what about a big new push to free up trade? Or an overhaul of the antiquated unemployment-insurance scheme and worker-training programmes that gets business more involved? Or serious immigration reform?

相比政纲,人才不是个什么大问题。一个认真的共和党候选人必须拿出解决美国经济面临的两大问题的答案:怎样使更多人重回工作岗位,以及怎样解决财政赤字。第一个问题要求一系列大胆的改革以促进就业和经济增长,第二个问题需要一个可靠的计划使中期账目收支平衡又不会在短期内破坏经济增长。提到促进就业,共和党人的失败大部分可归咎于缺乏创造性。他们只着眼于在减税和简化官方繁文缛节。但是为什么不采取更大胆的手段以开放贸易?或者对陈旧的失业保险计划以及劳工培训计划来个一个彻底的整修让商业界更积极参与其中?或者认真的移民改革?

The Republican failure on the deficit is more serious. Mr Obama is deeply vulnerable here, not least because he is still trying to kid Americans that their fiscal future can be shored up merely by taxing the rich more. But the Republican solution of tax cuts and even deeper spending cuts (typified by Mr Pawlenty’s proposals this week) is arguably worse. Most of the burden of repairing America’s public finances should certainly fall on spending. But the deficit is simply too large to close through spending cuts alone. The overall tax take—at its lowest, as a share of GDP, in decades—must eventually rise.

共和党人在财政赤字上的失败更严重。这两个话题是奥巴马先生的软肋,不单单是因为他仍然尝试愚弄美国人尝试让他们相信他们的财政状况可以仅仅通过向富人征税而得到改善。但是共和党人提出的减税以及进一步的削减开支(典型例子是普兰提本周的议案)的提议却更不靠谱。的确,修复美国公共财政的担子大部分落于支出控制。但是这赤字太大不能仅仅靠开支削减来缩小。现在总的税率占GDP的比例是近几十年来最低的,而这最终都会上升。

An honest Republican candidate would acknowledge this and lay out the right way to do so—for instance, by eliminating distorting loopholes and thus allowing revenues to rise. He (or she) would also come up with a more systematic plan on the spending side. No Republican seems to understand the difference between good spending and bad. Investment in roads and education, for instance, ought not to be lumped in with costly and unreformed entitlements, like Social Security and Medicare. Defence should not be sacrosanct. That Mr Obama has no strategy either is not an excuse.

一位诚实的共和党候选人将会承认这一事实并提出正确的方案——比如,通过去除各种扭曲的财政漏洞而使收入增加。他(或她)可以就财政开支提出一个更系统性的方案。而似乎没有一个共和党人能明白有益开支和有害开支的区别。比如说,在道路和教育上的投资不应该被归并为昂贵的待改革的津贴,后者如社保和医疗。辩解不必是神圣不可侵犯的。奥巴马先生没有提出战略也不是借口。

In most elections promising toughness is not a successful tactic; but this time Americans know that their country has huge problems and that their nation’s finances are the biggest problem of all. In Britain the Conservatives made the incumbent Gordon Brown seem ridiculous by spelling out the austerity that he at first barely dared mention; now another tough-talking centre-right party has won in Portugal (see article). If ever there was a time for pragmatic conservative realism, it is now. Mr Obama might also bear that in mind.

在大多数的竞选中,承诺强硬的手段并不是一个好的战术;但这一次,美国人知道他们国家的问题相当严重,而国家财政是其中最大的问题。在英国,保守党详细说明紧了缩财政的计划,而当时的在任总统布郎在一开始几乎没有提到过相似的计划因而颜面尽失;现在另一个强硬的中右派赢得了葡萄牙的大选(参见此文)。假如存在一个推崇务实的保守的现实主义的时代,现在就是了。奥巴马先生也应该记住这一点。

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重点单词
  • credibleadj. 可信的,可靠的
  • competitiveadj. 竞争的,比赛的
  • collectionn. 收集,收取,聚集,收藏品,募捐
  • ridiculousadj. 荒谬的,可笑的
  • solutionn. 解答,解决办法,溶解,溶液
  • incumbentadj. 凭依的,依靠的,负有义务的 n. 领圣职的俸禄
  • blamen. 过失,责备 vt. 把 ... 归咎于,责备
  • confrontvt. 面临,对抗,遭遇
  • debaten. 辩论,讨论 vt. 争论,思考 vi. 商讨,辩论
  • unknownadj. 未知的,不出名的