Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was openly skeptical Thursday that politicians on Capitol Hill would find the bipartisan unity necessary to keep the nation from heading over the so-called “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax hikes next week.

The Democratic governor also said he particularly was disappointed that the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives refused to go along with any of the budget remedies sought by President Barack Obama, steps that could relieve increasing pressure on the nation’s economy.

“You don’t want to be standing near a fan when this happens, and the fan is warming up,” said Malloy, who took questions from state Capitol reporters Thursday following a news conference to announce his nomination of former state Sen. Andrew McDonald to become a justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking in Washington, D.C., for officials to meet the Dec. 31 deadline for adopting new budget-balancing measures.

If no action is taken by Monday,  early legislation calls for federal income tax rates for all Americans to climb back to pre-2001 levels. And by Jan. 3, about $109 billion in automatic spending cuts would begin to take effect.

Economists have warned that both steps, combined, could pull as much as $600 billion out of the nation’s economy, triggering a new recession.

Republicans on Capitol Hill, who to have refused Obama’s proposal for a combination of more modest budget cuts and higher tax rates on households earning more than $250,000 per year, were scheduled to hold a telephone conference call Thursday to discuss whether to return to session before the deadline.

“The insanity of not getting a big deal … is just crazy,” Malloy said. “I worry that we’re going to miss this fantastic opportunity” to position the nation for economic growth.

“Do I think it’s going to get done before Jan. 3?” the governor added. “The answer is ‘no.’”

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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