Here's John McCain's big plan for the budget: make a whole lot of noise about eliminating of the piece of the budget pie representing earmarks (and remember that most earmarks simply mandate where monies will be spent, they don't create any new spending):
[Note: The OMB estimates earmarks to be 16.9 billion in 2008. Current federal expenditures for 2008 are not yet available, so the chart uses the 2007 value of 2880.5 billion from the BEA (the ratio is approximately one half percent, i.e. 0.59%). Since federal expenditures for 2008 will exceed those of 2007, this means that the area for earmarks shown in the diagram is overestimated, i.e. it is larger than the true value. The NY Times also notes that "earmarks ... make up less than 1% of the federal budget."].
All the recent controversy over McCain lying about Palin's earmark requests, as he did most recently on The View, is noteworthy for what is says about McCain's (lack of) character, but more generally it is misdirecting us from more important issues. Earmarks are only a minor part of the overall budget, and issues such as health care reform are much more important since rising health care costs will absolutely dwarf any savings from earmarks.
Here's the centerpiece of McCain's economic plan: drill for oil, then pretend like it will help at the pump:
I can't even see the sliver of yellow until after 2015, and even after that it's not much of a contribution. That's supposed to lower gas prices?
With such a solid foundation for the polcy porposals - a couple of slivers of pie - I can't imagine why the McCain campaign would resort to lies, deceptions, misdirection, and misleading characterizations to sell these "big" plans.
Update: Brad Delong has a slightly more detailed version of the first graph here (scroll down).