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经济学人:新国会 上面施工下面堵塞

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The new Congress

新国会
Construction above, obstruction below
上面施工,下面堵塞
The 114th Congress may be more productive than its predecessor—just
第114届国会或许比上一届更多产
VIEWED from a distance, the scaffolding on the Capitol's dome makes the building seem perpetually out of focus. The intentions of the congressmen sitting underneath it, who took their seats for the 114th Congress for the first time on January 6th, are similarly fuzzy. They may continue where the last Congress, a notably unproductive one, left off. Or they may work with the president to pass some limited legislation. While they make up their minds, a giant doughnut will be suspended above their heads to let workmen repair the 1,000 cracks that become apparent when the building is seen from up close.
远远望去,国会大厦圆屋顶的脚手架让这个建筑物看起来要永远地离开人们的视线。坐在国会大厦里面的议员,于1月6日首次入职成为114届国会成员,却犯一样的糊涂。他们或将接手上一届国会—出了名的无作为国会—的烂摊子。抑或他们与总统携手共同通过一些有限的立法。尽管议员们下定决心,但一个巨大的“甜甜圈”将悬浮在其头顶上空:从近距离看,国会大厦屋顶有1000条裂缝,越来越明显;议员们得雇佣工人去修复这些裂缝。

This giant floating bun ought to serve as a warning. In the previous Congress the centre too often went missing; to be more productive, this one will have to find it.Those who think this will happen argue that Congress works best when it is wholly controlled by one party, as the new one is. When one side holds just one chamber of Congress and the presidency, as was the case for the Democrats between 2010 and the end of 2013, the other lot has plenty of power—in the sense that it can stop things happening—but not much incentive to co-operate in governing. It is harder for a party to act as a protest movement when it is in charge of the legislature. When Bill Clinton found himself faced by a Congress wholly controlled by Republicans, he signed one bill reforming the welfare system and another that cut taxes. When George W. Bush faced a Democratic Congress, he signed a stimulus bill that gave the economy a needed boost in the early part of the financial crisis.

这个巨大的悬浮的“小圆面包”应该是一个警告。在上一届国会中,国会中心常常“闹失踪”;想要更多产,那么这一届国会必须要找到中心。坚信这一切即将成为现实的人争辩道,国会只有在完全被一党控制时才能有优异表现,如同这个新国会一样。和2010年-2013年底情况相同,一党仅仅拥有国会一院的控制权以及总统任职,而其他的则掌握了大权;某种意义而言,这样的格局可以规避一些情况,但在协同治理上却失去了许多动力。握有立法机关的控制权,要想掀起反抗运动,对于一个政党来说无疑是难上加难。比尔·克林顿意识到自己面对一个全权被共和党控制的国会,他签署了一项改革福利制度的法案以及另一项关于削减税收的法案。小乔治面对民主党控权的国会,他签署了一项刺激法案,该法案在经融危机爆发的早起及时地推动了经济。
A further cause for optimism is that the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is in a stronger position. Mr Boehner was re-elected to the post on January 6th, celebrating with a leathery kiss on the unwilling cheek of Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader (see picture, which went viral). Before the vote, some of his colleagues had talked about a coup. In the event 25 Republicans voted against him. The sight of Louie Gohmert, one of Mr Boehner's more obstreperous foes, receiving three out of an available 241 votes must have been particularly enjoyable. Since becoming Speaker in 2011, Mr Boehner has often been forced to do things he himself opposed in order to keep his members onside and retain his job. Now that Republicans have their biggest majority in the House since 1946, he can afford to be more robust.
乐观的另一个原因源于白宫发言人约翰·博纳,他处在一个更有力的地位。博纳先生是在1月6日重选中获胜,尽管少数党领袖南希·佩洛西极不情愿,但他还是给了她一个坚韧如皮革般的亲吻,来庆祝自己的任职(见图,该图此后被疯传)。投票前,他的一些同事曾谈道一场政变。该事件中,25名共和党议员曾投票反对他。见到路易·戈摩特,是一件过瘾的事;因为戈摩特在241票中只得了三票。自2011年成为发言人以来,博纳先生常常被迫做他不赞同的事,以此来保证他的成员不越位,也只有这样才能保住饭碗。自1946年以来共和党在白宫中占多数,既然如此,他就有资本表现得更加粗鲁。
Yet for all this, Republicans and the president do not agree on much. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, has said there may be room to deal on trade, infrastructure and tax reform. Of these three, trade looks the most promising, because granting the president's administration fast-track authority to do deals that cannot be unpicked by Congress later would not cost any money.
然而目前为止,共和党与总统之间并没有达成多少共识。参议院多数派领袖米奇·麦康恩曾说,贸易、基础设施以及税改的商议仍有余地。其中,贸易协商最有希望,因为授予总统外贸谈判特权,来协商,之后被国会挑选出来,而且零花费。
The other two supposed areas of agreement will founder on a familiar argument about tax. The president would like to raise revenue to pay for infrastructure improvements, perhaps by using a windfall from the foreign profits of American firms repatriated after a reform to corporate taxes. Republicans would prefer to pay for this through spending cuts elsewhere. Both sides are open to a deal that would lower the combined federal and state taxes on companies—at 39%, the highest rate in the developed world—while closing some loopholes. But whereas the president would continue to tax companies on their worldwide profits, Republicans favour a sytem that taxes profits based on where they are made. On both these issues agreement that something should be done is not enough to ensure that it is.
这项协议中另外两个部分将基于一项与税收有关的类似申诉。在公司税收改革后,美国公司将海外利润寄回国内,总统想通过收获其中的意外财产,来提高基础设施提升的工资。共和党人更愿意通过削减其他地方的费用来支付这笔费用。双方都愿接受这项协议,该协议将降低联邦和州对公司的组合税收—约39%,成为发达国家的最高比例—尽管关闭一些漏洞。然而,鉴于总统将继续向公司全球利润课税,共和党人偏爱这个系统—税收利润基于它们产生的地方。在这两个问题上,本该达成的协议要确保能发挥作用,却远远不够。
If the list of things where co-operation is possible is short and comes with many disclaimers, the opportunities for confrontation are numerous. Both Mr McConnell and Mr Boehner are under pressure from their members to find ways to hamper the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the president's executive action on immigration. They will try to do so by attaching riders to bills that the president would otherwise wish to sign, testing how much he is willing to lose in order to preserve two of the things that he sees as big achievements. This is likely to start in the coming week, when the Senate votes to approve the construction of Keystone XL, a pipeline that would take oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries on the Gulf coast. The White House has said that the president will veto the bill.The pipeline is a good illustration of why hoping for too much from this Congress will bring disappointment. Keystone XL, if built, may contribute to a slight increase in CO{-2} emissions, though its overall impact will be hard to discern. Nor will it provide much economic benefit: the pipeline is unlikely to create a large number of jobs, and with oil at $50 a barrel it is probably not viable economically. Yet Democrats often act as if Keystone XL were the most important environmental threat facing America, whereas Republicans offer it as a fix for any number of ailments, from slow growth to unemployment. This suggests that the argument is not really about whether to build a new pipeline, but about two conflicting views of American progress and about election adverts to be aired in future cycles.
在合作有望成功的地方,若清单不足,且出现放弃者,那么对峙的可能性将无限放大。麦凯恩先生和博纳先生顶着各自成员施加的压力,想方设法,阻止《平价医疗法案》的实施以及总统有关移民问题的执行力。他们将竭尽全力,通过给法案—总统另行签署—附上附文,达成此目标。同时,检验总统在保存这两样他认为最重要的成就时愿意付出多少。下周众议院投票通过关于“基石输油管计划”(把石油从加拿大焦油砂运送到墨西哥湾岸区炼油厂的输油管)的建设,届时他们可能开始行动。白宫说,总统将会否决这项法案。输油管一事,成为解答为何对这个新国会期待越高失望越大的最佳解释。“基石输油管计划”,一旦建成,可能会略微增加二氧化碳排放量,尽管其整体效果还有待考究。该计划也不会带来太多经济利润:输油管不大可能创造大量工作岗位;而且石油每桶价格在50美元,在经济上也许不太可行。然而,民主党人常常却将“基石输油管计划”看成是对美国面临的环境问题的最大威胁;共和党,恰恰相反则认为这是治理任何“小病”的“一剂良药”,无论是经济低速增长还是就业问题。这暗示,争辩不是为了讨论是否要建成新的输油管,而是两种不同观点—关于美国发展与选举广告在未来周期宣言的内容—争锋相对。
One of the first things the House will do will be to pass the Hire More Heroes bill. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have denounced the law's impact on small businesses, many of which must provide health insurance for their staff once they employ 50 people for 30 hours a week or more. The Hire More Heroes bill would change the law so that a company with 49 staff could hire as many military veterans as it wanted without breaching the threshold. This may be a good idea, but to claim it will transform the fortunes of either America's small businesses or the employment prospects of ex-servicemen is nonsense on stilts.
白宫必做事情之一,即通过《雇佣更过英雄》法案。自从推出《平价医疗法案》,共和党人公然抨击法律对小企业的影响,大部分是要求小企业只要员工人数满50人以上、工作时间超过一周30小时以上(包括30小时),就必须为员工提供健康保险。《雇佣更多英雄》法案将改变这项法律,如此一来,公司规模有49位员工,雇佣多少退伍军人都可以,也不会破坏门槛。这看起来是一个好办法,但其将转移美国小企业或者退伍军人的财富,毫无意义、夸张做作。
As well as passing laws, the Senate will be called on to confirm the president's nominations for two important offices: secretary of defence and attorney-general. Both will produce plenty of theatre. The attorney-general's hearing will be dominated by questions from Republican senators on how immigration law will be enforced, now that the president has unilaterally suspended parts of it. The hearings for secretary of defence will provide an opportunity for Republican presidential hopefuls in the Senate to denounce the administration's foreign policy as being both too adventurous and too passive.
除了通过法案,参议院将义不容辞向总统提名证实两个重要的职位:国防部长以及财务部长。这两个职位将产生大量剧院既然总统单方面暂停了财务部长听证会的部分内容,那么听证会将由共和党议员发问,问题涉及移民法的执行。国防部长的听证会将为共和党在参议院中最有希望的总统候选人提供机会,来否决政府的外交政策(太冒进、太被动)。
By the autumn of 2016, when work on the Capitol's dome is due to be completed, the 114th Congress will have run its course, the country will be in the throes of a presidential election and freshmen congressmen will find themselves accused of having become Washington insiders. This Congress will be less destructive than its predecessor, which shut down the government and flirted with a sovereign default. But at the moment the workmen scurrying around the roof look slightly more likely to leave behind something of lasting value than the politicians considering their legacies 200 feet below.
到2016年秋,届时国会大厦的屋顶将完工,第114届国会将按常规发展,美国将陷入总统之争,年轻的国会议员将发觉自己依然被控诉为华盛顿内部人。如此一来,与上一届国会(经历政府停摆、轻视债务危机)相比,国会破坏力下降。然而,到那个时候,围着屋顶转的工人,看起来更有可能丢下具有永恒价值的东西,而政客们则考虑藏于200英尺下的遗产。译者:黄柳

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