When President Barack Obama discussed earmark reform last week, he favorably cited the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as an example of legislation devoid of any congressional earmarks. But this gargantuan $787 billion “stimulus” plan that he championed is not devoid of new spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the bill's total cost.

Governor SanfordGovernor Mark Sanford (R) of South Carolina has been a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, and in the process has become one of the most prominent fiscal conservatives in the country. Recently, he made national news when he announced his plan to accept the stimulus funds but sought a waiver from the president to use 25 percent of it to pay down state debt rather than spend it on suggested programs (the other 75 percent is determined by formulas). If Obama doesn’t grant the waiver, Sanford has said he will reject the funds.

Education classroomOn March 10, President Barack Obama spoke in generalities about his plan to improve the nation’s public schools. His plan can be summarized fairly easily: merit pay for teachers who excel, more early childhood educational opportunities (expand the Head Start program), entice schools to set higher standards by giving awards from a $5 billion fund to states that are successful at improving schools, reduce dropout rates, scold adults so that they go back to school for higher educations, expand charter schools, get rid of bad teachers, and require kids to spend more hours in school.

Stem-cell researchPresident Barack Obama signed an executive order on March 9 that reverses the current ban on federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research. The move overturns an August 9, 2001 executive order issued by President George W. Bush that restricted federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research to the existing 60 cell lines derived from human embryos destroyed long ago.

People filling out forms in screened standsIt is "the biggest White House power grab ever," Sean Hannity declared on his Fox News talk show, reacting to the announcement from the president's office that the census director "would work closely with White House senior management" on next year's census. The change in administration has apparently resulted in a renewal of Hannity's outrage, which had not noticeably been aroused over White House power grabs like the Bush administration's suspension of habeas corpus and warrantless surveillance of private telephone and e-mail communications.

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