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.

Rep. Charles KeyWe Americans are expected to play by the rules — to obey traffic regulations, pay taxes, observe zoning ordinances — in short, to abide by the law. If we don’t, we may find ourselves fined or even jailed. Our federal government is also expected to abide by rules — in its case, the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution specifies which powers the federal government may exercise, and forbids any others. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution is explicit: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

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.

troopsCandidate Barack Obama pledged to get the United States out of Iraq, one of the two costly wars of occupation in which the United States is currently engaged. His campaign website boasted: “Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months."

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.

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