爱思英语编者按:争夺(美国总统大选)共和党党内提名的领先角逐者包括八位多多少少有点名气的政客,比如马克罗.卢比奥(Marco Rubio)和杰布.布什(Jeb Bush),另外还有这两位男士:唐纳德.特朗普(Donald Trump)和本.卡森(Ben Carson),他们一无政治经验,二是想法独特。

America's dysfunctional politics

The prospect of a shutdown looms


THE leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination include eight more or less distinguished politicians, such as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, and two men, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, with no political experience and some odd ideas. Mr Trump wants to deport 11.3m people in two years; Mr Carson thinks being gay is a matter of choice and the Affordable Care Act the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery”. Polls suggest these greenhorn screwballs command more than half the Republican vote.

争夺(美国总统大选)共和党党内提名的领先角逐者包括八位多多少少有点名气的政客,比如马克罗.卢比奥(Marco Rubio)和杰布.布什(Jeb Bush),另外还有这两位男士:唐纳德.特朗普(Donald Trump)和本.卡森(Ben Carson),他们一无政治经验,二是想法独特。特朗普预在两年内驱逐1130万人出境;卡森认为同性恋爱是选择事件,而“平价医疗法案” (Affordable Care Act)乃是“美利坚自奴隶制以来的最糟糕事件”。根据民调,这两位怪咖生手占据了党内一半多的选票。

To understand why Americans are so fed up with politicians, it would be reasonable to start with the government shutdown of September 2013, when the failure of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass a budget led to about 800,000 federal employees being sent home for 12 days and the mothballing of numerous government programmes and services. This was estimated to have cost the economy $24 billion in lost output; it also hurt the Republicans.


At the time, almost half of Americans said the shutdown had cost them and most blamed the GOP—even if the nation’s disdain for Congress at the time was a lesson in bipartisanship. Only around a quarter of voters, Republican or Democratic, said they were satisfied with their congressional representative.
彼时,近半数美国人认为政府关门让他们付出了代价,大多数人都谴责“大老党”(译者注GOP grand old party美国共和党别称)— 即使当时美国人对国会的鄙夷态度是针对两党合作的一个教训。只有四分之一左右的选民,共和派或民主派都有,表示对自己的国会代表们满意。

You might think the Republicans, now in control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, would want to avoid a repeat of that embarrassing, damaging episode. Yet the prospect of another shutdown looms. Lawmakers have only 12 days to pass a fresh budget for the fiscal year beginning on October 1st; or, if they cannot, to sign off on a stopgap agreement, called a “continuing resolution”, which would maintain the current rates of expenditure for three or four months. Their progress is discouraging.


An ambitious budget deal is out of the question. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress want to increase spending on welfare, education and environmental protection; Republicans want to slash those budgets and hike defence spending. There is little appetite for compromise on either side. So far, so normal: Congress has not completed the full budget process, which involves passing a dozen separate appropriations bills, since 1994. More startling is a growing risk that opposition from conservative Republicans could block the anticipated compromise.


The main obstacle is a row over the half a billion dollars a year an organization called Planned Parenthood, which carries out abortions, draws from federal and state coffers. The group has been accused by anti-abortion activists of profiting from the sale of foetus parts. It denies the allegation. It also protests that it spends its government money on cancer screenings, treating syphilis and other services—the abortions are funded separately.

个中主要绊脚石在于这个争端:一个执行堕胎、名为“计划生育”(Planned Parenthood)组织的每年5亿花销,其资金取自于联邦和州府金库。反堕胎活动分子指控该组织贩卖胎儿以牟取利益。他们否认了这项指控,并辩驳称他们将政府的钱花在了肿瘤诊断、梅毒诊治及其它服务项目上 — 而堕胎一项属于单独筹款。

No matter: around 40 conservative lawmakers in the so-called Freedom Caucus (as well as Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas whose narcissistic showboating was chiefly to blame for the 2013 shutdown and who is now seeking his party’s presidential nomination) have sworn to “defund” Planned Parenthood. Yet if the House seeks to do so in a budget agreement, this would probably be shot down in the senate, and otherwise vetoed by Mr Obama. The result, yet again, would be the government running out of cash.

无论无何:约有40位保守立法者加入了所谓的“自由核心集团”(Freedom Caucus),他们发誓要对“计划生育”组织“进行撤资”(泰德.克鲁兹Ted Cruz也是其中一员,这位得州参议员的自恋式炫耀表现主要是为了谴责2013年美国白宫关门事件,而他眼下也在竞选本党总统候选人提名)。然而,倘若众议院有意在预算协议中这么作为,那可能会被参议院毙掉,要么就是被奥巴马否决掉。其结果就是,又一次的,政府没钱花了。

Republican leaders in the House are appalled. They do not want to be blamed for that; the Republican speaker John Boehner, a staunch Catholic, may also fear the reputational damage this could do to the pro-life lobby he passionately supports. He has three possible solutions, none of which looks especially tempting.

众议院的共和党领导人是战战兢兢,他们不希望因此而受到指责;共和党发言人约翰.博纳(John Boehner),这位虔诚的天主教徒也可能担心这会给他所热烈拥护的反堕胎支持生命言论带来声誉上的损害。博纳有三个可能性应对方案,但似乎没有一个招人待见。

He assayed the first on September 18th, when the House passed a freestanding bill to defund Planned Parenthood for a year; Republican bosses plainly hope this will convince the Freedom Caucus to back a straightforward continuing resolution. This ploy may not work, however. The new bill is doomed to fail, because the senate will not pass it, and Mr Obama would anyway veto it.

他于9月18日尝试了第一个方案,当时众议院通过了一项独立议案要对“计划生育”组织撤资一年。共和党大佬们只是希望以此说服“自由核心集团”(Freedom Caucus)直接进入到“持续性决议”中。不管怎么说,这条路都可能走不通。这份新议案注定过不了,因为参议院会否决,奥巴马也一定会否决之。

Another option for Mr Boehner would be to circumvent the hard-liners in his own party by instead persuading House Democrats to support the required continuing resolution. They are willing: “We want to be cooperative,” Nancy Pelosi, their leader in the House, said on September 17th.  But this would be damaging for a Republican leadership that, having failed to sabotage Mr Obama’s administration as many hardliners want, is already derided by many in its own camp.

博纳的另一个选项就是绕过本党强硬派,转而说服众议院民主党人支持他想要的“持续性决议”。他们是愿意的:“我们也想合作,”南希.佩洛西(Nancy Pelosi),这位众议院民主党领袖于9月17日如是说。但这对于一个共和党领袖来说,这是不利的,因为本身不能如众多强硬派所愿去破坏奥巴马政权,这一点就足够让博纳遭自家人嘲笑了。

A third possibility would be to give the Freedom Caucus the conflict its members want, by simply failing to pass a budget, and thereby allowing the government to be shut down; but only for a day or two, before hurrying through the necessary compromise. For sure, that would be less costly than last time around. It would be shameful nonetheless.

第三种可能性就是让“自由核心集团”(Freedom Caucus)成员想要的对立发生,即否决预算案,白宫由此关门;但只关一到两天,之后赶紧找到必要的折衷方案。可以肯定的是,这么做的代价没上次那么大,但一定是个耻辱。