When President Obama journeys to Scranton, Pennsylvania this week to discuss his jobs bill, he isn’t going to have much to say about jobs in the defense sector. That’s probably a tactical error for a president seeking reelection, because there are several sizable defense plants in the Scranton area and the biggest employer in Northeast Pennsylvania is the Tobyhanna Army Depot. Then again, what would he say? As long as he sticks with his commitment to veto any legislation averting planned defense cuts that does not contain $1.2 trillion in budget savings, he is dooming hundreds of thousands of defense workers to unemployment. And that same commitment may well end up dooming his own chances of being employed as president two years from now. The electoral dilemma Obama faces is that defense spending is a potent part of the economic mix in swing states he needs to win to secure a second term such as Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia. So when the president threatens to block legislation that could save thousands of defense jobs in each of those states, he is doing himself no favors, electorally speaking. A shift in voter sentiment of only five percent would deprive the Obama campaign of all the electoral votes in key swing states, and people who rely on military spending for their income thus could determine who wins on election day in places like Pennsylvania. I have written a commentary on this subject for Forbes that you can find here.
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