The overwhelming majority of Americans think that the government spends too much. The problem is that they don't want or aren't willing to cut the biggest-spending government services. Americans are, for the most part, content to nibble on the edges of the largest-spending programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Here's a helpful chart based on a recent poll of Americans' attitudes about government spending. As the author says, "The programs that make up the largest share of the federal budget are typically the ones that the fewest people want to cut." The left-hand column represents what Americans are willing to cut while the right-hand column represents the proportion of the federal budget these programs take up:
This underscores just how important it is for small-government conservatives to make the case that there are programs that need targeted cuts. It also highlights how government spending programs create powerful voting constituencies that will never be in favor of cutting them.
This circulated around the blogs a lot, but hat tip to Jon Henke.