Sometime during the next several weeks, the U.S. Congress will take up the issue of raising the nation's debt ceiling so that the United States can continue to borrow money to cover a national debt that will soon soar past $14 trillion. The debate over raising the debt ceiling comes amid a highly polarized political atmosphere here in Washington.
在今后几个星期的某一时刻,国会将要讨论提高美国国债上限的问题,因为只有提高国债上限,美国才能继续借钱来偿付所欠债务。美国国债将很快达到14万亿美元。有关提高美国国债上限的争论将在华盛顿一个两极分化非常严重的政治氛围中进行。

The debt ceiling vote will be a high-stakes political showdown with national and international implications.
国会就提高国债上限的表决将是一场严峻的政治对决,对美国乃至整个世界都会产生影响。

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says that failing to raise the debt limit would lead to the United States defaulting on its loans, and he says that would be catastrophic.
财政部长盖特纳说,不提高国债上限将会导致美国不能按时偿还债务,而这将是灾难性的。

Senate Budget Committee Chairman, Democrat Kent Conrad, spoke on the "Fox News Sunday" television program.
参议院预算委员会主席、民主党人肯特.康拉德在“福克斯新闻星期天”电视节目中说:

"This is a defining moment and we have got to decide as a nation," said Conrad. "Are we going to do some things that all of us would prefer not to have to do or do we wait for the roof to cave in?"
“这是一个决定性时刻,作为一个国家我们必须做出决定。我们要不要做一些我们所有人都不情愿做的事,还是等到房顶塌下来才采取行动。”

Many Republicans oppose raising the debt ceiling, arguing that it is time to force the United States to stop what they see as a cycle of excessive spending and borrowing. They say that any effort to increase the debt limit must be linked to deeper budget cuts.
很多共和党人反对提高债务上限,他们说,现在是强迫美国停止他们所认为的无度开支和借贷的恶性循环的时候了。共和党人坚持,任何提高国债上限的措施都必须以更大幅度削减预算为前提。

Several of these Republicans won the support of Tea Party activists in last year's midterm congressional elections, and the Tea Party supporters are demanding that the lawmakers keep their word to cut the size of government or face their wrath in the next election.
这些共和党人当中有一些在去年国会中期选举中得到了茶党的支持,而茶党的支持者要求这些共和党议员信守竞选承诺,削减政府规模,否则将在下次竞选中面临惩罚。

Political analysts say all of this has led to a hyperpartisan political environment in Washington, one that former Senator Bob Bennett says he knows all too well.
政治分析人士指出,所有这一切导致了华盛顿的超浓厚党派政治氛围。前参议员鲍勃.贝内特表示,他对这一切都非常熟悉。

"Well right now, if you look at it superficially, the town is really messed up," Bennett. "And we are headed towards the question of whether or not we honor our obligations and pay our bills, or refuse to ideologically because that is the real impact of the vote on raising the debt ceiling."
他说:“目前从表面上看,华盛顿的局面是一团糟。我们面临的问题是要不要履行我们的义务去偿还债务,还是向意识形态低头,因为是否提高国债上限对将来的选举有实质性影响。”

Bennett is a Republican who was defeated in his bid for a fourth term at a party convention in his home state of Utah last year by more conservative opponents.
贝内特去年竞选第四次连任的时候,在家乡犹他州举行的党内初选中被更加保守的竞选对手击败。

The partisan atmosphere that pervades Washington could make it difficult for Republicans and Democrats to reach a compromise - not only on raising the debt ceiling, but also in finding common ground on the federal budget for next year.
华盛顿浓厚的党派氛围将使共和党和民主党很难达成妥协,不仅是提高国债上限,还包括在批准明年联邦政府预算方面找到共同点。

Mickey Edwards is a former Republican Representative from Oklahoma and a veteran of numerous partisan battles in Washington. He retired from Congress after the 1992 elections and has spent several years in academia, including his current position at the Aspen Institute here in Washington.
米奇.爱德华兹是前俄克拉荷马州共和党众议员,曾参与了华盛顿的多次党派争斗。1992年选举后,他离任进入学术界,前往华盛顿阿斯本研究所任职。

"Party dominance now, party victories in the next election are so important that you have the two parties at war with each other all the time," said Edwards. "The campaign just goes on and on, so it is always warfare. And we are paying the price because if you are the enemy, I have to defeat you for me to be able to get anywhere. It is really hard to sit down and compromise."
爱德华兹说:“一个党现在占主导地位,在下次选举中取得胜利非常重要,结果两个党总是处于交战状态。选战没完没了,两个党总是在较量。我们为此付出代价,因为如果你是我的政敌,我必须要战胜你,我才能干我想干的事。所以要想坐下来达成妥协的确很难。”

At the heart of the debate over government spending is a deep divide over how the two major parties view the proper role of the central government.
在政府开支问题上,两大政党分歧最深的是如何看待中央政府所应扮演的角色。

President Barack Obama and most of his fellow Democrats in Congress see the federal government as providing an essential safety net for the poor, the sick and the elderly.
奥巴马总统和大多数国会民主党人把联邦政府看作是低收入者、病患和老年人的安全网。

Republicans, fueled by the Tea Party movement, see the central government as too big and inefficient, and a hindrance to economic growth that would benefit all Americans.
受到茶党运动影响的共和党人则认为联邦政府过于臃肿、缺乏效率、阻碍经济增长。

Despite the highly partisan political environment and his own defeat last year, former Senator Bennett says he is hopeful that both sides will come to an agreement on raising the debt limit.
尽管党派政治氛围浓重、而且他本人去年竞选失利,但前参议员贝内特仍然表示对两党能够对提高国债上限达成一致抱有希望。

"Campaigning is a lot easier than governing," added Bennett. "Campaigning leads you into the area of slogans rather than solutions. And I think many of these folks are turning out to be more serious than we may have thought. So I'm an optimist that we will raise the debt ceiling and that we will not default on our debts."
他说:“竞选比执政容易得多。竞选要你去喊口号,而不是拿出方案。我觉得,很多议员实际上比我们所想象的要严肃得多。所以,我对我们能够提高国债上限而不是停止偿还感到乐观。”

Bennett's optimism seems out of sync with recent public opinion surveys that show about 70 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track and nearly two-thirds believe the nation is in decline.
然而贝内特的乐观情绪似乎与最近的民调结果大相径庭。民调显示,大约70%的美国人认为美国正走在错误的道路上,而且有将近三分之二的美国人认为美国正在没落。

Members of Congress return to Washington next week after a two-week break. During that time, many lawmakers will have held town meetings with voters and heard a lot about the debt ceiling, the budget and cutting government spending.
国会议员们休会两个星期后,即将重返华盛顿。很多议员将和选民举行座谈会,听取有关提高国债上限、预算和缩减政府预算的意见。