'ObamaPhones started under Reagan!' Your point?
Established in 1985, the Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers was a noble thought. It was designed to provide telephone service for qualifying low-income consumers -- to provide poor people with access to emergency services, families, and jobs. The program was expanded in 1996 to include cell phones. The first cell phone service was begun in 2008, provided by SafeLink Wireless, under the TracFone umbrella.
Current Lifeline Program eligibility requirements are:
- Be at or below 135 percent of the federal Poverty Guidelines OR participate in one of the following assistance programs:
- Food Stamps or SNAP
- Section 8 Housing
- Free Lunch Program
- Other government give-away programs
You can see how the government defines "poor."
The program, part of the Universal Service Fund (USF), is paid for by telecommunications service providers that contribute to the federal USF based on a percentage of their end-user telecommunications revenues. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not require this charge to be passed on to customers. Each company decides whether to assess charges to customers to recover its Universal Service costs.
From Media Matters For America (MM), we get this: "Fox News hosts falsely claimed that a federal program that helps low-income Americans obtain phone access is paid for by individual taxpayers, when in fact the program is funded by fees levied on telecommunications companies." So, technically, MM is correct -- phone access is not directly paid for by individual taxpayers. But I'm curious as to who MM thinks pays the fees levied on telecommunications companies. They made a big deal about this "false claim." MM is hiding behind a technicality, a liberal characteristic that we have seen before. Can anyone say "oil production"?
MM also stated (emphasis mine):
Conservative activist James O'Keefe [founder of Project Veritas] released a new highly edited video that purports to show people inappropriately receiving free cell phones after announcing an intention to sell them to purchase drugs and to pay bills. The phones were being distributed as part of a federal program to provide low-income Americans with access to phones. The raw footage of the video, however, shows that none of O'Keefe's actors who claimed that they were going to sell the phones for unrelated purchases actually received phones."
Again, MM is technically correct. The video does not show any investigators actually receiving phones. That is a rather weak attempt to obfuscate, to change the subject. More to the point, here are some of the quotes from the Project Veritas video, featuring Project Veritas investigators and "ObamaPhone" workers:
Investigator: ... I love bags, and I have so many f------ bills, I am in debt, so I need to sell as many of these phones as possible to pay off my bills and stuff[.] All I'm saying is thank God for Obama because Obama is basically paying for my Louis Vuitton bag right now[.]
"ObamaPhone" worker: What you do is up to you. It don't have nothing - Just keep it to yourself.
Investigator: This is him ["ObamaPhone" worker] talking about, telling us that we can sell the phone to buy heroin, the drug. OK, so I'm get some money for heroin.
"ObamaPhone" worker: Hey, I don't judge.
Investigator: On my application, one more question, when I come back on the application, should I put down that I intend to sell it or I don't like it?
"ObamaPhone" worker: Probably like plead the Fifth on it. It's illegal. Uh, yeah. It's - there's guidelines, it's against the law.
Investigator: I could get the phone and then sell it?
"ObamaPhone" worker: Yeah, I don't care what you do with it.
Even though MM claims the video is edited, the message comes through loud and clear. It sure appears that MM is again hiding behind a technicality. But don't take my word: watch the five-minute video yourself. And while you're at it, don't forget this jewel.
Even dead people are receiving "ObamaPhones." Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) says:
The evidence is stacking up: dead people are receiving free cell phones in the mail, eligible and ineligible individuals are obtaining more than one, and electronic kiosks have been stationed in convenience stores to spread the word about this 'free' opportunity."
[In a FoxNews interview, Griffin said] "This program demands reform. There is a lot of waste in it and we need to be asking ourselves, 'Where do we draw the line? Do we give everybody an iPad next? A computer? Is that the role the federal government should be playing?'
All of this for "only" $2 billion per year.
And here's another nugget of information. One of Dear Leader Barack Hussein Obama's cronies, TracFone CEO F.J. Pollak, received a part of a major new government contract to provide internet service to low-income job-seekers. And guess how that program is to be financed. You guessed it: the USF! The program is designed to increasing digital literacy by use of the internet to help bridge the skills gap and reduce job search discouragement. TracFone will, however, provide Android phones rather than computers as part of the program. The phones allow users to play games and browse Facebook, but they do little in the way of increasing job skills. The idea of subsidizing internet access for the poor came from TracFone.
Pollak has been a frequent White House visitor. His wife, Abigail, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns. It's interesting to note that TracFone has over 4 million Lifeline subscribers. It just seems that coincidences never end.
The only defense offered by Lifeline Program supporters is that it was begun during Ronald Reagan's term, and expanded to include cell phones during George W. Bush's term. But so what? Circumstances change -- even Democrats are not immune. The Jeffersonian Republicans-Democrats represented those who visualized an agrarian future. Then, as the 20th century began, progressives with socialist-Marxist doctrine began to infest the Democrat Party. The result is what we have today.
So what began as a noble cause has "evolved" (as Obama is wont to say) into yet another government giveaway program. Certainly not its original intent. The Lifeline Program has been corrupted by Obama supporters, and the Democrats want to expand it to include the internet. And shouldn't they be allowed to do that? After all, the internet was AlGore's invention.
Dr. Warren Beatty (not the liberal actor) earned a Ph.D. in quantitative management and statistics from Florida State University. He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making. He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired. Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years. He blogs at rwno.limewebs.com.