Americans Spent $2.2 Billion On “Obamaphone” Cell Phone Entitlement

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Not only are taxpayers shelling out big bucks for “Obamaphones,” but the program appears to be rife with fraud. As many as 41% of those getting the phones couldn’t, or wouldn’t, prove their eligibility.

The U.S. government spent about $2.2 billion last year to provide phones to low-income Americans, but a Wall Street Journal review of the program shows that a large number of those who received the phones haven’t proved they are eligible to receive them.

The Lifeline program—begun in 1984 to ensure that poor people aren’t cut off from jobs, families and emergency services—is funded by charges that appear on the monthly bills of every landline and wireless-phone customer. Payouts under the program have shot up from $819 million in 2008, as more wireless carriers have persuaded regulators to let them offer the service.

A review of five top recipients of Lifeline support conducted by the FCC for the Journal showed that 41% of their more than six million subscribers either couldn’t demonstrate their eligibility or didn’t respond to requests for certification.

The Obamaphones issue seems like a microcosm for American politics today. On one hand we have government-as-Santa-Claus crowd who win support from the masses with taxpayer-funded goodies. On the other hand, we have the limit-government crowd who have to be the grown ups and tell the people that we can’t afford all the goodies.

Guess which side has been winning the debate with the American people of late?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • toomuchguvmint

    We now spend annually nearly $60,000 per household in poverty. Seehttp://www.weeklystandard.com/… Rush was right – Santa Claus won the last election. Government is the reason many people are just not available for work.

    • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

      I think that Romney was right and got blasted for it as well.

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    How will people make their drug deals if they don’t have an Obamaphone?

    • WOOF

      Those people don’t talk on the phone.

  • WOOF

    Facing facts”
    “begun in 1984″ Reagan
    “Obama phone” actually was signed into law by
    President George W. Bush in 2008.

    • mikemc1970

      I very much doubt that homeless people were given portable phones to lug around back in 1984.

      • WOOF

        You’re right . All subsidized phone comes from univeral service rules from 1913, 1934, 1996 and FCC.

        • mikemc1970

          So they were subsidizing houses so the homeless could have a subsidized home phone?

    • Thresherman

      As usual, WOOF only notices the facts that he wants to. He totally ignores that the program cost 819 million in 2008 and the cost has exploded by over 250% in the last 4 years, a lot of that due to fraud.

    • Bman

      Ok. So what? Because it was enacted under Reagan, conservatives and Republicans are supposed to say, “Awesome! Great deal!” It needs to be flushed down the toilet along with a thousand other entitlement programs. WE DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO SUPPORT THEM! I don’t give a tin crap what entitlment program started under whomever. I don’t know about you, but I don’t “root” for a particular political party like they are some kind of sports team. Less government is best for all.

      • The Revealer

        What do you mean so whjat?
        I don’t hear you calling them Reagaphones

        • Bman

          You don’t hear me calling them anything

  • mikemc1970

    A local TV news team has had a series of stories on this very problem. Here in Oklahoma the problem is made worse by the fact that the taxpayer pays even more for the cell phone ($35/month versus $10 in other states). Here is the link to the story and videos.

    http://www.newson6.com/story/21130471/despite-reforms

    • WOOF

      Oklahoma is paying $35/month versus $10 in other states? Connected Corporate Criminals giving out phones to anything with a pulse . Ca Ching.

      • mikemc1970

        It has to with some native American subsidy. Why do you hate native Americans?

        • WOOF

          Everybody in Oklahoma with a low income cell phone is an Indian?
          “Oklahoma Lifeline 1000 Plan
          Every month you get 1000 voice minutes
          or 1000 text messages for $1.00 per month after discounts and plus fees and taxes. . The plan is available only in Oklahoma.”

          • mikemc1970

            The phone recipient only pays a dollar a month. The federal government pays about $35 a month for each of the phones in Oklahoma compared to about $10 a month in other states. Still that’s no reason for you to hate native Americans.

          • WOOF

            I always respected you Tonto.
            Try to understand who is profiting.
            Then you will understand who is running the scam.

          • mikemc1970

            Your racial slurs can’t hurt me, I’ve been called much worse by much better, but I love how quickly you revert to them. Obama’s Tracfone bundlers are the ones profiting now, because he’s the one running the scam now.

  • SigFan

    I heard the Obamaphone lady again on the radio the other day. She was complaining that even though she got a free phone they limit the minutes. Gimme – gimme more, ‘cuz I wants it.

  • chris

    There is no “obamaphone”. It’s a program called Lifeline Assistance that started more than a decade ago, and Obama had nothing to do with initiating it. It should be more appropriately called the clintonphone, or even the bushphone, since the program has existed more time under Bush’s watch.

    • Onslaught1066

      Why are you telling us, asshat?

      Try explaining that to your fellow No-Information voters

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio&feature=player_detailpage

      • chris

        It’s so you can stop blaming Obama for this program. The Youtube lady obviously isn’t learned in the matter, and you’re a fool for believing her.

        • Onslaught1066

          I understand how your retarded brain might not be able to process English properly so I will ask that you consult a 5 year old before attempting to answer again.

          Why are you telling us, asshat?

          Remember it is people like you who voted for Dumb-O because of what you think he will give you… you know like Obamaphones.

          • chris

            Obama has nothing to do with the Lifeline Assistance program. You obviously lack the required intelligence to understand.

          • Onslaught1066

            Tell that to your No-Information voter pals, asshat.

            You obviously lack any kind of reading comprehension.

      • Jean

        I was going to write about the woman shown on the video as I heard her a long time ago, and then I noticed where you had the video too. Thanks. Some people won’t believe anything unless you can prove it to them with a video. That person should be embarrased to be so proud to get a free phone. If I remember correctly, someone else commented that you “go back again, you get more phones.” When the guy asked how many, she said, “lots.” That makes me angry as I’m sure she was capable of getting a job and earn her own money.

    • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

      Whoever started it, it needs to be stopped. Enough, is enough, these people need to pay for their own phones, we’re broke.

  • Opinion8ed

    Nice we who pay for everything pay for this by fee on our bills and this program is extended to anyone on the following programs:
    Medicaid
    Foodstamps, snap
    SSI
    Section 8 housing
    Low income home energy assistance
    Free or reduced school lunch
    Bureau of Indian affairs assistance
    Tribal TANF
    Tribal food distribution on reservations
    Head start

    All programs that we who work have to chip in for

  • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

    This program needs to be killed. There is no reason the federal government needs to be paying for anyone’s phones.

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