• With: Steve Forbes, Rick Ungar, Victoria Barret, Morgan Brennan, Elizabeth MacDonald, Rich Karlgaard

    DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING "Cost of Freedom Recap" CONTAINS STRONG OPINIONS WHICH ARE NOT A REFLECTION OF THE OPINIONS OF FOX NEWS AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS INVESTMENT ADVICE WHEN MAKING PERSONAL INVESTMENT DECISIONS. IT IS FOX NEWS' POLICY THAT CONTRIBUTORS DISCLOSE POSITIONS THEY HOLD IN STOCKS THEY DISCUSS, THOUGH POSITIONS MAY CHANGE. READERS OF "Cost of Freedom Recap" MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN INVESTMENT DECISIONS.

    IN FOCUS: Rick Santorum's opponents hitting him on earmark spending while he was in the Senate

    STEVE FORBES: Stuart, this is an outrage, the idea that only $30 billion of earmarks should be ignored. This is equivalent to greasing the skids for big government. They give you, Congressman Stuart Varney, $10 million dollars, you vote for hundreds of billions dollars in spending. It is corrupting, it leads to lack of transparency, it is going to lead to more scandals, but most of all it is a mammoth government. So, getting rid of earmarks is good for taxpayers!

    RICK UNGAR: I think Steve is right in the sense that earmarks can be very touchy things. Let's face it though; they are never going away so long as congressmen and senators have to go home and politic in their districts. They want to show people that they have brought home the bacon. Look, none of the candidates in the Republican primary are going to be challenged on this because their leaders have the worst records when it comes to earmarks. At least President Obama promised, in his 2011 State of the Union speech, that he would veto anything with earmarks. That is a promise he has kept.

    VICTORIA BARRET: It is a great debate to have and Rick, I feel like you are being too cynical here. Why can't congressmen and women come home and say I made great choices for our country? Why does it have to be about building that bridge to nowhere in our state, in our district? It does not have to be that way yet, earmarks are at the center of it. That is why it is wonderful that this is becoming a debate in the election.

    MORGAN BRENNAN: Look, I love the idea of debating anything that involves cutting our spending, but that being said, I really think earmarks are a drop in the bucket. It is about $30 billion a year in spending and we "technically" have a moratorium on them right now. Compared to a $15 trillion deficit right now, what we really should be debating about, in my opinion, is entitlements; social security, Medicare, we should be debating about defense spending as well, which we are doing.

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD: Gateway drug to bigger government corruption, more spending. Ninety thousand earmarks over the last decade, the government has doubled. The corn husker kickback was a big pork filled nod basically to send Senator Ben Nelson to get his vote for healthcare. The president's stimulus plan loaded with pork, loaded with earmarks. The founding fathers said it was unconstitutional, never in the appropriated powers of congress were they allowed to have pork spending. We lived for 200 years without it. Thomas Jefferson opposed it saying that the meanest people in government would get the most pork and they would waste it. That is what he said.

    RICH KARLGAARD: A gateway drug is a perfect description, and I had made notes to say the same thing, so Liz, you and I are one on this. The $30 billion is very symbolically important and it engages the American people in a proper discussion about the role of government. But, I would point out that we should be talking about also, economic growth. Every one percent increase in GDP is another $140 billion. So let's not get so obsessed on the spending side that we forget to talk about the growth side.

    Kids are exercising and playing less in preschool

    STEVE FORBES: The best way to lose weight for kids, aside from being able to grow it off, is having recess, having playgrounds, having sports programs. But, schools now know if they have these they are inviting a lawsuit. A kid gets hurt, wow; you are going to get a big suit. When I was in school, we had recess. Somebody broke my arm, big deal, it is a part of growing up, but you don't ban the whole thing.

    RICK UNGAR: Why don't while we are at it, we blame the trial lawyers for World War II, prickly heat and poison ivy. I mean they are to blame for everything. This is ridiculous. We all know what is causing child obesity. I know what being a trial lawyer is like. It is expensive to bring litigation today, and by the way that expense is typically born by the lawyer. Now, do you imagine that lawyers are hanging around the playgrounds waiting for Johnny to fall off the teeter totter and get a boo boo so he can sue the school, put up hundreds of thousands of dollars for no return. It is ridiculous. If you want to do something about child obesity, cut the sugar.

    RICH KARLGAARD: You see lots of civic activity being halted because of fear of lawsuits; Fourth of July parades, the list goes on. But, I will agree with Rick that there are numerous causes of childhood obesity, and I would add agricultural subsidies that make junk food cheap. And, I think we have a near obsession with trying to test kids at the earliest levels so they can get into the Ivy League and so programs are being destroyed so kids can become these little geniuses at age six, which turns out to be a really false and lopsided view of raising a kid.

    VICTORIA BARRET: My two-year-old is already computer programming for the record, it is big in Silicon Valley. I have been touring preschools all month and I do not see evidence of this at all. All these programs emphasize and try to prove the value of play based programs, where you have kids outside counting leaves instead of at a desk counting numbers. So I actually do not buy this at all. I do not think it's happening, and the obesity is really rooted in parenting and the fact that junk food is cheap. That is a problem.

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD: Lawyers are starting to be to blame, and I am glad to see California is not yet a hot pit of this activity is Victoria is reporting. Look, it is happening in places like West Virginia, removing swing sets. I have to tell you, why do you need the torque board to remove playground equipment if it is deficient or malfunctioning, why can't the schools just do it themselves? Why do you have to have the torque bar getting in there to get fat on lawsuits aimed at schools when the kids are getting fat? You learn all sorts of lesions on the playground, Stuart that you do not get in a textbook. I am for keeping the swing sets and the monkey bars. It is a swing set to far to let the torque bar in here.

    MIKE OZANIAN: I think it is the fault of the parents Stuart. I think parents have, in large part, turned over the welfare of their children to government. Schools are a big part of that, and they have turned over their welfare to the administrators both in terms of exercise, in terms of food. I think that is why we have so many fat kids that can't run. That is what they have done. Parents have to get involved, they have to go down to the schools and get involved with the administration, with the curriculum and the program. To sit back and say ‘Oh, Johnny just play electronic video games and your exercise I will turn over to the school,' is the wrong way to go.

    FLIPSIDE: Tensions mounting in Iran over the Strait of Hormuz

    DENNIS KNEALE: One reason the economy is still sputtering is because gasoline prices are so much higher than they were a year ago. It is not just the impact on our pocketbook, but understand for every $1 at the gas pump, that is $100 billion in disposable income, which is three million jobs. But, it is also how we feel. Gas is a touch point and it effects how we feel about the rest of the economy. If you sit there worrying about this the whole time you are going to end up in trouble. Now, with Iran, even though this will hurt our economy, if they block the Strait of Hormuz, we have to attack. We cannot allow them to do it.

    MIKE OZANIAN: I am betting against this scenario and so are investors, Stuart. If you look at oil futures, the price has fallen a lot in the past few days from $114 a barrel, to about $101. Swaps, which are insurance on future contracts for oil, are also heading down. I do not think this is going to happen.

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD: I agree with Dennis, it would suck about $100 billion annually out of consumer purchasing power for every buck increase. The Mideast has not been this unstable since the Iran revolution of 1979. Here is a positive development, the UAE is building its own pipeline to circumvent the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran could block by just crashing some ships as Egypt did with the Suez Canal. So the fact that the UAE is building a pipeline is a positive, speaks to our lack of building the Keystone Pipeline.

    STEVE FORBES: The prospect of a rise of conflict in the Middle East is not going to send oil up much further than it is today, it is the actuality that would do it. The Iranians are not going to block the Strait of Hormuz for a very simple reason; they need the money to survive. What could happen though, and this could lead to $5 a gallon, perhaps even $10 a gallon, is if the Israelis attack Iran, which is a possibility, I put it at 1 to 3 this year. But the prospect is not going to make it happen.

    VICTORIA BARRET: That instability is priced in. It is not like the Middle East has gone from a peacekeeping, wonderful place and all of the sudden now is acting weird. This has been the case for a while. Iran won't do this; it simply is not going to happen because it would be military suicide. They know that. This is political posturing. They are trying to get countries not to enforce the same type of sanctions that the U.S. has enforced against Iran. This will not happen; it is not going to affect oil prices.

    INFORMER: Election season stock picks

    What stocks will be the election winners?

    Morgan Brennan:  ExxonMobil (XOM)

    Dennis Kneale: Energen (EGN)

    Elizabeth Macdonald: T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth (TRBCX)