Spending the Stimulus: $46 Billion Down, $741 Billion to Go

How much of the stimulus money had been injected into the economy through the first 4½ months of the year? As of mid-May, about 6% of the money — $45.6 billion – had been paid out. Much of that went to Medicaid costs, unemployment benefits and the $250 checks to Social Security recipients. Highway projects had received $11 million. The Transportation Department had committed an equivalent amount, but the money has not gone out yet.

In all, some $88 billion had been committed to various types of projects and programs. The administration points out that it is a two-year program, but many state officials and others remain anxious. The administration has committed to spending 70% of the money, or $550.9 billion, within the first two years.

Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview recently, "I think that what you’re going to see happen here is the velocity of this will increase not just arithmetically, but geometrically here. At least, we’ve got to make that happen."

Obama Kicks Off Administration by Dining on Duck from Milford

Inside Indiana Business writes that duck raised right here in Indiana will get the presidential treatment in Washington, D.C. today:

Maple Leaf Farms duck will be the center of the main course for the Inaugural Luncheon, which follows the swearing-in of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. One hundred pounds of boneless duck breasts are being sent to Design Cuisine, an upscale catering company based in Arlington, Virginia.

The luncheon has been a tradition for more than a century. Approximately 200 guests including the new President, Vice President, members of their families, the Supreme Court, Cabinet designees, and members of Congress will attend the event being held in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol building.

The theme of the 2009 Inaugural ceremonies, "A New Birth of Freedom," celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of President (Abraham Lincoln), will be reflected in the luncheon. The menu created by Design Cuisine is based on the historic ties to the Presidency of Lincoln. Growing up in the frontier regions of Kentucky and Indiana, Lincoln favored simple foods including root vegetables and wild game.

 Kudos to Maple Leaf Farms, an Indiana Chamber member, for this prestigious recognition.

Does Obama Really Want to Bankrupt the Coal Industry?

Our election night partners at Hoosier Access have a detailed post on this, but it seems Barack Obama actually told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would like such aggressive cap and trade measures put in place that it would bankrupt the coal industry?

Read the full post with audio here, and decide for yourself.

Indiana Coal Production since 2004:
2007 – 34,231,151 tons
2006 – 34,715,610 tons
2005 – 34,460,052 tons
2004 – 35,240,514 tons

In Indiana, we still have a rather heavy reliance on coal and it should be noted that Duke Energy is currently building the first large-scale clean coal plant in Edwardsport.

Not only would a collapse of the coal industry be detrimental to Indiana, but it would have an even greater impact on top coal producers like West Virginia, where the industry provides around 40,000 jobs.

Update: As you might imagine, those who understand coal’s contribution to the national economy aren’t super enthused about Obama’s comments. Mike Carey, president of the Ohio Coal Association, issued a press release today and mentions Indiana in his remarks:

"These undisputed, audio-taped remarks, which include comments from Senator Obama like ‘I haven’t been some coal booster’ and ‘if they want to build [coal plants], they can, but it will bankrupt them’ are extraordinarily misguided.

"It’s evident that this campaign has been pandering in states like Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana and Pennsylvania to attempt to generate votes from coal supporters, while keeping his true agenda hidden from the state’s voters.