Skip to comments.THE ORIGINS OF THE ‘OBAMA PHONE’ (A FEDERAL FCC PROGRAM IN EXISTENCE BEFORE OBAMA WAS ELECTED)
Posted on 10/08/2012 2:50:57 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
A viral video flying around the Internet in the last week of September introduced America to the Obama Phone Lady, an angry woman with a shrill voice who turned up at an Ohio rally for the Republican presidential candidate and snarled, Romney sucks! Asked why she supported Obama, she rattled off a list of benefits, including: Everybody in Cleveland minorities got Obama phones! Keep Obama in President, you know? He gave us a phone!
Her in-your-face determination to hang on to government benefits rankled taxpaying Americans. But the most widespread immediate response to the video was, What the heck is an Obama phone?
It turns out the Obama Phone Lady is entirely correct about the existence of a program to provide welfare recipients with free or heavily subsidized cell phones, but Barack Obama had nothing to do with it. A program called Lifeline Assistance, originally intended to help low-income people install landline telephone service, has existed for decades. It was implemented by the Federal Communications Commission in 1984, and has changed several times over the years. There are also state-level programs that provide telecom welfare benefits.
One of the more significant changes to the Lifeline package of programs came in 2008, when subsidies for cell phone service began. On one hand, the rapidly declining cost of cell phones and cellular service made it inevitable that they would eventually become part of telecom welfare. At this point, cell phone service is arguably cheaper to provide than landline installation and service. On the other hand, its hard to justify buying cell phones for Americas growing dependency class. It has a certain straw that broke the camels back feeling about it.
The program is not at all difficult to qualify for. The precise eligibility requirements vary from state to state, but income within 135 percent to 150 percent of the official poverty level (currently $23,000 for a family of four) is generally required. Those who are already enrolled in a variety of welfare programs, including the increasingly ubiquitous food stamp program, automatically qualify for cell phone subsidies. Everyone else funds the program through a surcharge on their monthly cell phone bill.
Link to food stamp program
The generally explosive growth of Food Stamp Nation has driven the expansion of subsidized cell phones as well. An August report in the Dayton Daily News said that the program has nearly doubled in size in Ohio in the past year, now covering more than a million people. Nationwide, it is estimated that the Lifeline Assistance program grew 43 percent to 16.5 million from 11.5 million participants.
The FCC recently implemented reforms designed to cut down on the number of free cell phones handed out to illegitimate recipients, including a sizable number of people who ended up with more than one government-subsidized cell phone. As with so many other aspects of Food Stamp Nation, the procedures for checking applicant eligibility were scandalously lax. Nevertheless, the administrators of these programs estimate that only a little over half of the eligible beneficiaries are taking advantage of them.
Although President Obama had nothing to do with cell phone welfare, his name became associated with it due to a series of viral emails beginning in 2009. These emails were usually written in a tone of disgust, inviting the reader to marvel at how taxpayer money is being redistributed to welfare recipients for free cell phones, as one example put it. The unknown authors of these emails often claim to have overheard people chatting about their free Obama phones.
Its disturbing how so many people have proven reflexively willing to associate government welfare benevolence with President Obama. A wide-ranging scam claiming that Obama would pay your electric bill took in hundreds of suckers nationwide, earlier this year. Liberals who assail the Obama phone story as misleading are missing the point. The problem is that a fair number of the people who have them apparently use that name for them. And according to those FCC estimates, nearly 12 percent of the adult population of the United States might qualify for them.
Watch the Obama Phone lady here:
I love it when she says with emphasis : “ROMNEY, HE SUCKS.”
Started in 1984, expanded significantly under Bush and then even moreso under Obama. This just goes to show the rot of the Welfare State. I am sure Reagan did not specifically want to start a new entitlement but that's when it started. And Bush expanded it before Obama expanded it. No matter who is in office, the Welfare State grows.
I reject this description. The man has presided over the government during the explosive growth of the program. Either he believes in the program and is fine with it, or he has been asleep at the switch. Either way, he is responsible for it. Paying for free cell phone service for millions and millions of Americans is not some little detail that is so far below his pay grade that we can presume he know nothing about it, or excuse him if that is in fact the case.
From Lifeline’s website:
“...Federal rules prohibit eligible low-income consumers from receiving more than one Lifeline discount per household. An eligible consumer may receive a DISCOUNT on either a wireline or wireless service, but not both. A consumer whose household currently is receiving more than one Lifeline service must select a single Lifeline provider and contact the other provider to de-enroll from their program. Consumers violating this rule may also be subject to criminal and/or civil penalties.”
The site says nothng about FREE phones....
Those Obama supporters really have high intellect! They smart, you know!
Chavez phones! Chavez phones! Everybody in Venezuela got Chavez phones!
Whenever you’re talking to an “educated” liberal, ask him or her how they feel belonging to a party that has Sheila Jackson-Lee and “obama stash” screamers.
Nice chewing gum shot. My horses munching hay have way more class than that.
The government takes money from honest, hard-working productive individuals and gives it to indolents who vote democrat.
Lifeline packages grew out of breaking up the phone company, at the time called “Ma Bell”, who held a death grip monopoly on landline service.
It’s subsidized out of business taxes on a variety of hard wire services.
I believe the wireless subsidy came from the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Not directly, but as a result of it.
It is extended to anyone below the poverty line and anyone over the age of 65.
In fact, while most of us pay some $35-$40 for a landline, including taxes, a person qualifying for “Lifeline” can receive phone service for $6.87 plus a meager amount of taxes.
The reason it’s so appalling to see people running around with Wireless, paid for by the taxpayer, is they are clearly able to pay for the service themselves and they flaunt being a “taker” right to your face.
Ain’t nuttin but a thing....baby...
“an angry woman with a shrill voice who turned up at an Ohio rally”
It is documented that she was bused there by SEIU.
Bravo! So well said.
The Obama bundler lady ($600,000 PLUS) and her husband own TRAC PHONE!!!
Not sure - this might be photoshopped
As a telco cable splicer through the 90’s, I’d like to add one thing.
The Lifeline service to landlines allowed calls ONLY to 911, the telco business office, and possibly one or two other services. Calls to any other numbers were NOT POSSIBLE with that service.
The greenness (or lack thereof) of that phone is irrelevant.
What’s important is “Who are the barbarians on the other end that he’s communicating securely with?”.
I heard/read something to the effect that the phones given out in Ohio increased dramatically in the last couple of years....and that a person was awarded more minutes if they brought another in to apply for a phone. Before I google away, just wonder if anybody else knows if this is true.
Ohio? What a coincidence.
Wellllll, you can buy it now for local calling only and for $1.95 more you can make long distance calls.
Don’t recall if there is an initial bucket and then overage but I had a team selling UVerse for ATT in 2005,6???
We would get credit for lifeline the same as a regular line so when they took UVerse we’d get em on lifeline too and if they had crap internet service we’d upgrade them on a new contract and they’d receive, six months later, $25 for the phone, $75 for the Internet Svc and $100-$175 for UVerse TV depening on the package.
I hated knocking on doors all day and gave it up after a year and a half.
As I said, my experience with Lifeline was in the 90’s and what I stated was the way things were in NYNEX (NY Tel) at that time. NO CALLING other than the services mentioned, NO ADD-ONS, NO INTERNET. Exactly WHAT the subscriber paid for Lifeline, if anything, I have no idea. I retired in June ‘99 and anything beyond what I stated came after that date.
PS...I worked in Harlem, Washington Heights and the South Bronx so we ran into Lifeline lines quite often. WE could not even identify the numbers for these sub. lines as we could with normal sub. lines as ONLY the prescribed services could be reached on those pairs.
So Obama gets both credit and blame. Both un-earned.
NYNEX!!!! Ha, Ha, Ha, LOL
Haven’t heard that in what? 12+ years?
I wasn’t challenging you. I thought about the way my post would be interpreted...After I hit “post”.
You crazy. I’d never walk past 101st.
Sorry for the friction. It was unintened. Just the way it came out.
It made my life interesting working there. As a block splicer I worked in the streets, backyards, basements and rooftops of those neighborhoods. Normally it was day work, but whenever there was a cable failure, it would be noon to midnight or midnight to noon. While working those failures I would drive to the manhole and park inside the barrier tape. On several occasions I got pulled over and tossed against a car by NYPD Anti-Crime Task Force posses while driving to or from the job. I got “profiled” for being a white, middle-aged male in drug infested neighborhoods.
but Barack Obama had nothing to do with it.
If I’m not mistaken, he went public claiming it. As far as I’m concerned, he wanted it so he owns it.
He’s rejected credit for all the things he’s completely responsible for; it’s about time he takes credit for something.
I can imagine.
Must’ve been pretty exciting sometimes.
Back then the 20 and 30 something MBAs that were running the company decided that the reason the company was not doing well was us 50+ year old workers, so they made us an offer I couldn't refuse....so I signed up. Not long after that the company was bought by Bell Atlantic. BA realized the stupidity of the previous management and also understood the value to the business of us “old farts”. They would have made it quite worth my while to stay past ‘99, but the health of my folks was failing at the time and I had to help care for them so I walked. Thirty years of the Bell System (NY Tel), American Bell, ATTIS, Nynex and Bell Atlantic was more than enough for me. Leaving Harlem, the Heights and the Bronx in my rear-view mirror was also a no-brainer. LOL
This program was originally created for handicapped people or those with medical issues, who could not afford a landline, let alone a cellphone. They were given these phones to be able to call 911 for emergency or to call doctors or others for help, transportation, etc. The service was minimal and was a service provided for by any state that chose to participate. As usual, when the Feds got involved, the program exploded with excess, tying it in with food stamps, and misuse. It is paid by anyone who has a cellphone, hidden in the monthly statement under “universal fee or charge.”
I remember that. It was a nice package though if I recall.
Good for you.
I was working for Frontier and then Comcast, in their new telecom division in King of Prussia at that time.
Yes it was. As one of the old time foremen in my garage said, “These guys (the workers) may be old, but they ain’t stupid!” When he saw the way experienced workers leaving the garage was going to impair his ability to meet the objectives of upper management, he retired also. In his words, “I’m too old to be a babysitter.” When I left, the idiot foreman I was working for had less time on the planet than I had in the company. I heard he got fired a few months into 2000. Don’t know exactly why....but general stupidity would be my guess.
Exactly right, we’re not concerned with what was, we’re concerned with what is!
This welfare-loving antagonist need to go!