Malloy discusses federal budget cuts with Obama

Washington — When Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy joined a number of fellow Democrats meeting with President Obama and Vice President Biden Friday, the main topic of conversation were looming cuts to the federal budget known as “sequestration.”

“I’m very concerned about the effects of sequestration on our defense industry,” Malloy said after spending more than an hour at the White House.

Not only will sequestration cut Pentagon spending on weapons systems — potentially impacting those produced in Connecticut — the state will have to furlough 500 Connecticut National Guardsmen, Malloy said.

Malloy is in Washington through Monday attending the Winter Meeting of the National Association of Governors.

He has been named to the Council of Governors, a bipartisan 10-member panel that addresses matters relating to the National Guard and homeland security.

About $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, half of those to the Pentagon, will take place March 1 unless Congress comes up with another way to save money.

Malloy, like many Democrats, are blaming Republicans for a failure to come to an agreement to avoid sequestration, saying the GOP is “kicking the nation in the teeth.”

“They really just don’t care about the American economy,” the governor said, citing a Congressional Budget Office report that says 750,000 jobs would be lost due to sequester cuts.

Republicans are blaming Democrats, and especially Obama, for the standoff. They say Democrats don’t want to cut spending enough and want to instead meet deficit reduction targets by raising taxes, something the GOP won’t tolerate.

The Senate plans a vote next week on an Obama plan that contains both spending cuts and new tax revenues. But even if it is approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate, the proposal is expected to die in the Republican-controlled House.

Malloy said he will discuss the looming cuts with the state’s mayors and local government officials because municipalities in Connecticut stand to lose $47 million in federal grant funding.

He said the rest of the White House meeting Friday “was frankly taken up by the president’s agenda.”

But the Connecticut governor did manage to pitch his new gun control proposal to fellow Democrats.

“Until there’s national action, each state will have a different approach,” he said.

Malloy said he also plans to give a speech on energy policy at Georgetown University Law School on Friday and attend a reception hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry, where he will meet with the ambassador to the Asian nation.

Also on the governor’s agenda is an NAG panel on education Sunday, which he will co-host with Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa.

Then there’s a dinner at the White House Sunday night — and another visit to the White House Monday.