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Republicans: 'Obamaphone' program is 'everything that's wrong with Washington'
The Hill ^ | Oct 11, 2013 | Brendan Sasso

Posted on 10/12/2013 6:38:28 AM PDT by upchuck

The government shutdown isn't slowing down Republican criticism of the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program, a phone subsidy for the poor.

In letter to FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, forty-four House Republicans called Lifeline a "failed program" that symbolizes "everything that is wrong with Washington."

The lawmakers, led by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.,) said they would repeal the program if they could.

"Sadly, Lifeline has become a prime example of how the culture of dependency is weakening America," they wrote.

The program is often derisively referred to as the "Obamaphone program," although it began long before Obama took office.

The program has ballooned in size from $800 million in 2005 to $2.2 billion in 2012, and there have been widespread reports of abuse and fraud.

Earlier this month, the FCC proposed more than $14.4 million in fines against five companies for allegedly defrauding the program.

The Republicans said they were surprised by the FCC crackdown but that it's too late to restore the public's trust in the program.

"The American people expect their government to do more than pay lip service to the waste, fraud and abuse," they wrote.

They claimed that the program doesn't help the poor because the fees that fund it apply to all phone subscribers equally, regardless of their income.

They asked Clyburn to consider requiring a $2 "co-pay" as a condition of participating in the program. They also asked for suggestions to cut the cost of the program in half by the end of next year.

"How much time and how many resources has the FCC wasted trying to save this failed welfare program?" the Republicans asked.

Cylburn, a fierce defender of Lifeline, argues that the program helps people stay in touch with their families, apply for jobs and call for help in emergencies.

In a speech last month, she said the idea of ending the cellphone portion of Lifeline is "one of the most illogical things" she's heard since her appointment.

"Even suggesting this is taking a major step backwards and ignores the critical telecommunications needs of needy Americans and is out of step with the communications evolution," she said at the time.

The FCC was unable to comment Friday due to the government shutdown.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS:
I volunteer as a triage interviewer at a local food bank and I have seen the fraud referred to in this article.

Two week ago or so I interviewed a woman with six children. The only family member without a nobamaphone was her three year old.

The rules stipulate one phone per family. Back before cellphones, this was easy to enforce as the phone had to be in the family's home. With the portability of cellphones this quickly got out of hand.

Fraud is truly rampant. And those of you who pay a cellphone bill every month are financing it.

Wonder how much more you'll have to pay for Clyburn's "communications evolution?"

1 posted on 10/12/2013 6:38:28 AM PDT by upchuck
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To: upchuck

Didn’t this entitlement program start under Bush 43?


2 posted on 10/12/2013 6:44:42 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (I’m not a Republican, I'm a Conservative! Pubbies haven't been conservative since before T.R.)
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To: upchuck
I haven't read the article and probably won't, but it occurs to me that a celphone has a life of service.

Everybody has a period or a plan or something.

Are obamaphones indefinitely turned on ?

3 posted on 10/12/2013 6:47:19 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: upchuck

“The FCC was unable to comment Friday due to the government shutdown.”

But somehow phone companies are still giving out Obamaphones? If so that should be stopped as incurring spending without authorization.

Repeal is the only answer. People can donate their old cell phones to charities as we do for the troops. Why should welfare people have better phones than our troops?


4 posted on 10/12/2013 6:47:27 AM PDT by AMDG&BVMH
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To: Jack Hydrazine
Didn’t this entitlement program start under Bush 43?...
I believe this was originally a Reagan era program to give a land line telephone connection to low income people in remote regions; not much opportunity for fraud there. The problems started when cell phones and cell phone plans were included under Obama. The biggest beneficiary of the program is now Carlos Slim of Telmex in Mexico, who is reported to be the richest man in the world.
5 posted on 10/12/2013 6:57:48 AM PDT by Old North State
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6 posted on 10/12/2013 7:23:17 AM PDT by RedMDer (http://www.dontfundobamacare.com/)
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To: upchuck

Not everything. RINOs with neither brains nor balls are a good part of what’s wrong in Washingtin as well.


7 posted on 10/12/2013 7:43:05 AM PDT by wny
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To: upchuck

I have people coming into my business that brag that they have multiple obamaphones because 250 minutes is not enough. I have people coming into my business trying to sell me steaks that were purchased with their ebt cards. 90% of this garbage is fraud!


8 posted on 10/12/2013 7:54:35 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: Old North State

“The problems started when cell phones and cell phone plans were included under Obama.”

There is a monthly charge on everyone’s bill ‘Universal Surcharge Tax’. This is exclusively used for the Obamaphones.


9 posted on 10/12/2013 7:54:44 AM PDT by duckman (I'm part of the group pulling the wagon!)
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To: upchuck
"The American people expect their government to do more than pay lip service to the waste, fraud and abuse," they wrote.

"But we're just going to point fingers and stomp our feet. Because, even though we in the GOP have the power of the purse, there's never been a program we've actually abolished." (At least that *I* know of).
10 posted on 10/12/2013 7:56:13 AM PDT by i_robot73 (Give me one example and I will show where gov't is the root of the problem(s).)
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To: upchuck

Obama couldn’t have such a program if the Republicans and Democrats didn’t fund it in the House. Liars.


11 posted on 10/12/2013 7:57:43 AM PDT by CodeToad (Liberals are bloodsucking ticks. We need to light the matchstick to burn them off. -786 +969)
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To: duckman
There is a monthly charge on everyone’s bill ‘Universal Surcharge Tax’. This is exclusively used for the Obamaphones.

I've spent some time researching this and can't find anything to back your claim about exclusivity. Can you supply a link or something? Thanks.

Here's a link I found that appears to refute your claim. From the link:


12 posted on 10/12/2013 8:25:39 AM PDT by upchuck (nobamacare must be stopped before it can live down to our expectations.)
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To: upchuck

Sorry, this was on Fox and Friends one morning. Stuart Varney was discussing this topic. If I find it on F+F I will send a link.


13 posted on 10/12/2013 8:28:16 AM PDT by duckman (I'm part of the group pulling the wagon!)
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To: upchuck

I know people with multiple phones on this program. Or every member of their family happens to have one.

“Calling for job interviews” yeah right.


14 posted on 10/12/2013 8:29:02 AM PDT by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
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To: upchuck
a phone subsidy for the poor

If you can afford tats, grilles, and manicured fingernails.....

YA AIN'T *POOR*!

15 posted on 10/12/2013 9:59:49 AM PDT by MamaTexan (Due to the newly adopted policy at FR, every post I make may be my last.)
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To: upchuck

So - you set up a program where the gov’t pays phone companies to give out phones, with apparently little or no oversight. Is it really a surprise that they give out as many phones as possible, regardless of the rules? It’s kind of like cash for clunkers - there are so many incentives to cheat that it would be a shock if it didn’t happen.


16 posted on 10/12/2013 8:09:06 PM PDT by Some Fat Guy in L.A. (Still bitterly clinging to rational thought despite it's unfashionability)
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