President Obama on Monday courted war veterans by accusing Republicans of wanting to slash defense spending to balance the federal budget while extending tax cuts to the country’s highest earners.

The presidents said there is no reason for the large-scale cuts that will kick automatically in if Congress fails to reach a deal on reducing the federal deficit.

“People in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong,” he said at the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ 113th annual national convention in Reno, Nev. “And there are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want you to know that most of them voted for these cuts. Now they’re trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to.