Still, across-the-board defense cuts may be more palatable than attacking individual military programs because "the constituency for each factory and workforce is deeply embedded in the Congress," Adams said.
In his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans to "guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."
While the complex that arose hasn't threatened personal liberties in the way that Eisenhower cautioned, it has become a sophisticated and voracious recipient of government contracts. Seventy cents of every federal procurement dollar in fiscal 2011 was awarded by the Defense Department, Bloomberg Government found.
Neither Jordan's Ohio nor Murray's Washington registers in the top 10 states of Pentagon spending, yet two multibillion- dollar projects in their states account for thousands of jobs.
"Cutting defense spending is difficult because of the jobs at stake in every corner of the country," Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, said in an emailed statement that cited planemaker Boeing Co.
"In my own state, a company like Boeing has a tremendous direct and indirect effect on hiring," Murray said. "I can remember when I was a teenager, working in my father's five-and- dime store, you could tell how well Boeing was doing by looking at the till at the end of each day."
In Ohio, the tanks keep coming, whether the Army wants them or not. That's thanks in part to the work of Jordan, who in his six years in Congress has become a top Republican advocate of budget cuts, winning a tea party group's backing.
Jordan, 49, recently led the House Republican Study Committee, which in January 2011 proposed that Congress reduce spending by $2.5 trillion over a decade to help balance the budget. He wants to freeze or squeeze non-defense spending, while leaving the Pentagon mostly untouched.