All condemn pending budget cuts, spread blame

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm •  Published: February 24, 2013
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Officials said their analysis showed Kentucky would lose $93,000 in federal funding for a domestic abuse program, meaning 400 fewer victims being served in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state. Georgia, meanwhile, would face a $286,000 budget cut to its children's health programs, meaning almost 4,200 fewer children would receive vaccinations against measles and whooping cough.

White House officials said Nevada would face military furloughs totaling $12.1 million in reduced pay, a $424,000 cut to pay for meals for seniors and an almost $2 million reduction for clean air and water programs.

The White House compiled the state-by-state reports from federal agencies and its own budget office. The numbers reflect the impact of the cuts this year. Unless Congress acts by Friday, $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect from March to September.

As to whether states could move money around to cover shortfalls, the White House said that depends on state budget structures and the specific programs. The White House did not have a list of which states or programs might have flexibility.

Republican leaders were not impressed by the reports for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

"The White House needs to spend less time explaining to the press how bad the sequester will be and more time actually working to stop it," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

Some governors said the impasse was just the latest crisis in Washington that is keeping businesses from hiring and undermining the ability of state leaders to develop their own spending plans.

"It's senseless and it doesn't need to happen," said Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., during the annual meeting of the National Governors Association over the weekend.

"And it's a damn shame, because we've actually had the fastest rate of jobs recovery of any state in our region. And this really threatens to hurt a lot of families in our state and kind of flat-line our job growth for the next several months," O'Malley said.

Obama did not mention the budget cuts in remarks before his dinner with the governors Sunday evening at the White House; he is expected to address the issue in a speech Monday morning to the same group. But time is running out and hope is waning.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said it is past time for both sides to sit down to help dodge cuts that will hurt all states' budgets.

"Come to the table, everyone. Everybody. Let's work this thing out. Let's be adults," said Malloy, a Democrat.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called the defense cuts "unconscionable" and urged Obama to call lawmakers to the White House or the presidential retreat of Camp David for a last-minute budget summit.

"I won't put all the blame all on the president of the United States. But the president leads. The president should be calling us over somewhere — Camp David, the White House, somewhere — and us sitting down and trying to avert these cuts," McCain said.

LaHood, who served as a Republican representing Illinois in the U.S. House, urged his colleagues to watch Steven Spielberg's film about President Abraham Lincoln's political skills.

"Everybody around here ought to go take a look at the 'Lincoln' movie, where they did very hard things by working together, talking together and compromising," said LaHood. "That's what's needed here."

LaHood and Duncan were the only representatives from the administration to appear on Sunday shows. The White House did not book any of its senior aides.

Barbour, Malloy and McCain appeared on CNN's "State of the Union." McCaskill was interviewed on "Fox News Sunday." Ayotte, Duncan and Kaine spoke with CBS' "Face the Nation." LaHood appeared on both CNN and NBC.

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Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: https://twitter.com/philip_elliott