So I know it's a complex phenomenon, and there's lots of reasons the tea party exists right now and its members share the crazy ideas they do (like I'm sure it's just coincidence all these crazies happen to come out when we get our first Black president).
But one of the major reasons so many people think Government spending is crazy or stupid is because they don't understand it. It's really not their fault, as 40+ years of anti-tax activism by far-right nutjobs has people pretty convinced about 97% of federal spending is free welfare for drug abusing teen moms (when in reality, free welfare for drug abusing teen moms is a relatively small percentage of federal spending).
And of course it isn't just that. But what most people don't realize is the many ways they benefit from government spending. For example, a recent study by Suzanne Mettler of Cornell University found that the vast majority of people will report that they don't get any government benefits, despite the fact that most people do.
For instance, she found that 60% of those claiming the home mortgage interest deduction claimed they don't use any government social programs, despite that being a government social program. 53% of people with federal student loans, 52% of those claiming the child or dependent tax credit, 44% of social security recipients, 43% of unemployment recipients, the list goes on and on -- so many of these people said they receive no government social spending despite the fact they're all getting (fairly large sums of) government social spending.
This helps explain a lot about Americans. For instance, why people can look at the public unions trying to hold onto their collective bargaining power in Wisconsin and think they're trying to get fat off of government money. Or why people can fool themselves into thinking they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps without anyone's help.
Because they simply refuse to believe (or fail to recognize) how much help they've gotten and continue to get