Eager to trade taxpayer money for political goodwill, lawmakers are using taxpayer dollars to line the pockets of certain schools and colleges with frivolous education "pork." Two federal programs, each intended to spur innovation of the American educational system, serve as slush funds for congressional pork projects: the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and the Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE). Over the last decade, Washington politicians obtained 5,563 earmarks costing nearly $2.3 billion through these programs. In federal fiscal year 2010 alone, Congress provided over $101 million to the FIPSE program and over $125 million to FIE. In federal fiscal year 2010, 97.4 percent of U.S. Department of Education's earmarks flowed through FIPSE and FIE, including 543 earmarks costing more than $190 million. A closer look at the types of projects funded by Washington politicians through these two programs show that their money has not been put to good use. This decade, Congress has earmarked federal taxpayer dollars to fund: wine studies; politicians' legacy programs; a study for a school that does not exist; efforts to deter negativity; mariachi music; and seemingly endless projects far removed from the nation's fiscal priorities.
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