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托马斯·弗里德曼:美国的“一党民主”其实很糟糕

《参考消息》 《纽约时报》
目睹美国国会就医疗改革、气候和能源问题进行的辩论,我们很难不得出以下结论:比一党专政更糟糕的事情只有一件,那就是一党民主。
《参考消息》

【美国《纽约时报》网站9月9日文章】题:我们的一党民主(作者 托马斯·弗里德曼)
目睹美国国会就医疗改革、气候和能源问题进行的辩论,我们很难不得出以下结论:比一党专政更糟糕的事情只有一件,那就是一党民主。如今,美国正处在一党民主的状况下。
一党专政当然有它的缺点。但当这个政党的领袖是一群相当开明的人时,正如当今中国的情况一样,这也会成为巨大的优势。这样的一个政党可以强行实施政治上很艰难但对于一个社会在21世纪的发展来说却极为重要的政策。中国致力于在电动车、太阳能、节能、电池、核能和风能领域超越我们,这并非偶然事件。中国领导人明白,在这个人口激增和新兴市场中产阶级不断壮大的世界上,清洁能源和节能方面的需求会猛增。北京希望自己拥有这个产业,并且也在自上而下地制定政策来实现这个愿望,如提高油价。
我们的一党民主则较为糟糕。事实上,在能源和环境立法及医疗改革立法方面,只有民主党在真正采取行动。共和党只是袖手旁观和说“不”,除了个别引人注意的例外情况。共和党内许多人只是希望奥巴马总统失败。奥巴马不是社会主义者,他是中立派。然而,如果他被迫完全依赖民主党以使法案获得通过,那么民主党各派系会给它带来双重损失。
看看众议院的气候和能源法案吧。提案发起者不得不付出双倍努力才使这项突破性的“限制和交易”法案获得通过。为什么?因为共和党人基本上不愿意投票支持对碳排放征税。
提案发起者不得不完全依靠民主党人,而这意味着必须给产煤州和农业州的民主党人一些政治恩惠。谢天谢地的是这是一项值得通过的法案。但情况本来可以好得多——也许在参议院会好得多。如果有8至10个共和党人打算支持对碳排放征税,那么他们就能平衡想要阻扰这项法案的民主党人的力量。
共和党曾经是个代表商界利益的党派。要在全球化的世界中竞争并获胜,没有比美国商界更需要将企业的医保重担转交给政府的了;没有比美国商界更需要移民改革以使全世界顶尖人才不受限制地来到美国的了;没有比美国商界更需要推广清洁技术的了。然而,如今,共和党人抵制国民医疗改革和移民改革。他们只想枪毙提案,一味的枪毙。
在美国巴克鲁学院任教的全球贸易顾问爱德华·戈德堡说:“全球化使得共和党变得中立,使其代表的并非衰退中的穷人,而是全球化的美国当中的穷人,那些要么在事实上已经被遗忘、要么担心自己被遗忘的人。在全球化世界中参与竞争的需求已经迫使学术界精英、跨国公司管理人员、东部的金融家以及高科技行业企业家重新考虑共和党能够做些什么。他们大体上都离开了共和党,留下的不是一个务实的联盟,而是一群按照意识形态说不的人。”
September 9, 2009 New York Times
Op-Ed Columnist
Our One-Party Democracy
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.
Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.
Look at the climate/energy bill that came out of the House. Its sponsors had to work twice as hard to produce this breakthrough cap-and-trade legislation. Why? Because with basically no G.O.P. representatives willing to vote for any price on carbon that would stimulate investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, the sponsors had to rely entirely on Democrats — and that meant paying off coal-state and agriculture Democrats with pork. Thank goodness, it is still a bill worth passing. But it could have been much better — and can be in the Senate. Just give me 8 to 10 Republicans ready to impose some price on carbon, and they can be leveraged against Democrats who want to water down the bill.
“China is going to eat our lunch and take our jobs on clean energy — an industry that we largely invented — and they are going to do it with a managed economy we don’t have and don’t want,” said Joe Romm, who writes the blog, climateprogress.org.
The only way for us to match them is by legislating a rising carbon price along with efficiency and renewable standards that will stimulate massive private investment in clean-tech. Hard to do with a one-party democracy.
The same is true on health care. “The central mechanism through which Obama seeks to extend coverage and restrain costs is via new ‘exchanges,’ insurance clearinghouses, modeled on the plan Mitt Romney enacted when he was governor of Massachusetts,” noted Matt Miller, a former Clinton budget official and author of “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas.” “The idea is to let individuals access group coverage from private insurers, with subsidies for low earners.”
And it is possible the president will seek to fund those subsidies, at least in part, with the idea John McCain ran on — by reducing the tax exemption for employer-provided health care. Can the Republicans even say yes to their own ideas, if they are absorbed by Obama? Without Obama being able to leverage some Republican votes, it is going to be very hard to get a good plan to cover all Americans with health care.
“Just because Obama is on a path to give America the Romney health plan with McCain-style financing, does not mean the Republicans will embrace it — if it seems politically more attractive to scream ‘socialist,’ ” said Miller.
The G.O.P. used to be the party of business. Well, to compete and win in a globalized world, no one needs the burden of health insurance shifted from business to government more than American business. No one needs immigration reform — so the world’s best brainpower can come here without restrictions — more than American business. No one needs a push for clean-tech — the world’s next great global manufacturing industry — more than American business. Yet the G.O.P. today resists national health care, immigration reform and wants to just drill, baby, drill.
“Globalization has neutered the Republican Party, leaving it to represent not the have-nots of the recession but the have-nots of globalized America, the people who have been left behind either in reality or in their fears,” said Edward Goldberg, a global trade consultant who teaches at Baruch College. “The need to compete in a globalized world has forced the meritocracy, the multinational corporate manager, the eastern financier and the technology entrepreneur to reconsider what the Republican Party has to offer. In principle, they have left the party, leaving behind not a pragmatic coalition but a group of ideological naysayers.”
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