Dramatic cuts in military spending are beginning to take a toll on defense jobs in battleground states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
When Barack Obama has lost even liberal Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, the White House has a problem. In Washington, that problem is known as the "sequester." In the rest of the country, it's becoming known as a jobs disaster.
Jobs, and his own re-election, were on Mr. Brown's tortured mind this week, when he publicly called on the president to do something about Defense Department cuts that threaten to shutter his state's Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base—and with it, 1,000 jobs. The cuts might be "penny wise," griped the senator, but they were "pound foolish."
That was the rebuke that greeted Mr. Obama as he landed in Mansfield for a campaign stop. An editorial in the Mansfield News Journal demanded that the president "explain to the people of Mansfield why the U.S. government wants to eliminate" their jobs and base. A colonel in the local Ohio Air National Guard parked C-27J aircraft (up for elimination) on the tarmac, so Mr. Obama had to see them as Air Force One landed.
As targeted campaign events in swing states go, this was a local bust. Now imagine Mansfield, only bigger, in cities and towns across the country, and you start to see Mr. Obama's problem.
A year ago, the president demanded a $500 billion "sequester" of defense dollars as a penalty should Congress fail to cut a grand debt deal. Congress of course failed, and Mr. Obama's sequester is now imminent. The sequester slash comes on top of the $487 billion in defense cuts Mr. Obama had already ordered in January of this year, threatening the likes of Mansfield.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned of the damage the sequester will do to national security. Yet the far more immediate political problem for Mr. Obama is that the cuts are compounding his domestic jobs liability—in the final stretch of the campaign.