WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's call to shrink the military, shut bases and cancel weapons to meet the demand for budget cuts tests the resolve of lawmakers who came to Washington determined to slash the deficit.
A new national security strategy reflecting an end to decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan offers the opportunity to reduce defense spending and government deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years — but at a cost of thousands of jobs in lawmakers' states and districts.
Democrats as well as Republicans are resisting, looking to protect home turf from California, where the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft is built, to Wisconsin, home to speedy Littoral combat ships, to military installations all across the country.
"It's funny that we want to save money everywhere except when it can bother us," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in an interview. Graham is a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently outlined a $525 billion budget for next year that's $6 billion less than the current level.
"Make no mistake, the savings that we are proposing will impact on all 50 states and many districts across America," Panetta said at a news conference spelling out the new strategy. "This will be a test, a test of whether reducing the deficit is about talk or about action."