Cross-posted on CW Unbound.
Both the federal government and the Massachusetts government are facing huge budget shortfalls, but they apparently offer radically different examples of supposedly wasteful spending. In Washington, the devil is in "earmarks"; in Massachusetts, generous pensions for state employees elicit the loudest catcalls.
Conservative opponents of President Obama's stimulus bill and proposed federal budget have focused almost exclusively on earmarked programs, particularly those with a scientific bent. (Well, the Manhattan Institute is floating the idea of scrapping Head Start, but it's an outlier.) Most of the outrages seem quite defensible upon closer inspection, which makes Republicans such as Sen. John McCain seem indistinguishable from the Bay State's own Carla "Small Government Is Beautiful" Howell. In McCain's Twitter remarks from the floor of the Senate, he repeatedly admits that he doesn't know or care what a program does -- as in "$650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi - how does one manage a beaver?" The logic is that if government does it, it's inherently wasteful, so the details don't matter.
(BTW, it seems like an eternity ago that Bill Weld, running as a Republican for governor of Massachusetts mocked his Democratic opponent as insufficiently interventionist in the preservation of open space: ''Would you tell us what plans, if any, you have for the preservation of open space in Massachusetts other than leave it to beavers?'')