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Obamaphones: Rife with Waste, Fraud, and Abuse
Heritage Foundation ^ | Nov 24, 2013 | Matthew Sabas

Posted on 11/30/2013 10:43:21 AM PST by upchuck

Free cell phones for low-income Americans, one of the fastest growing welfare programs in the United States, is—by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) own admission—rife with “waste, fraud and abuse.” And who is paying for these free Obamaphones? If you have a phone subscription, you are.

The program, officially called Lifeline, predates Obama’s presidency but has earned the colloquial name “Obamaphone” after nearly tripling in cost since 2008.

Almost everyone who pays a phone bill has an extra monthly charge that contributes to the Universal Service Fund, which covers Lifeline access. The government pays companies $9.25 for every person connected through Lifeline. Recipients typically receive a free wireless phone and a certain amount of airtime.

These Obamaphones aren’t iPhones, but they typically have nearly all the capabilities offered through a standard phone contract.

SafeLink, for example, offers government-sponsored plans that not only include basics like local, long distance, and emergency calls, but other amenities such as international calls, 1,000 texts, carry-over minutes, call waiting, roaming, and a choice of 67, 125, or 250 minutes—all at no cost and contract-free. If 250 monthly minutes are not enough to call potential employers, no problem! Referring a friend for a free cell phone will score an additional 100 minutes.

A comparable paid plan available at SafeLink’s parent company, TracFone Wireless, would cost almost $400 annually per phone.

By law, Lifeline is restricted to one phone per household and only available to those who have an income below 135 percent of the federal poverty line or enrolled in a means-tested entitlement program. In practice, it is simple to obtain multiple Obamaphones: The FCC announced that duplicate Lifeline subscriptions topped 2 million, warranting millions in fines to companies for failing to verify recipients’ income.

Jillian Melchoir of the Franklin Center wanted to find out just how easy it would be. She managed to collect three of her very own Obamaphones, even though her income disqualifies her from any government support.

Melchoir is in the company of millions: According to figures supplied by the FCC to The Wall Street Journal, 41 percent of subscribers were unable to prove their eligibility for the program.

Indifference to abuse of the program is appalling. In an undercover investigation by conservative activist James O’Keefe, prospective recipients openly discussed selling their phones for handbags and heroin—only to be reassured by the Obamaphone vendors they would not be judged.

Lifeline has mutated from a program designed to help the needy into a glorified corporate subsidy. Abuse of the program will continue while the FCC scrambles to fix it.

An all-expense-paid cell phone, courtesy of those who actually pay for their own service, is not a human right; it’s an insult to struggling families who are reminded every month that their money is lost in yet another sloppy government slush fund.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS:
IMHO, this government teat program went completely out of control when cellphones were allowed.

Dump all the cellphones and restrict usage to one home-bound regular dial phone.

1 posted on 11/30/2013 10:43:21 AM PST by upchuck
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To: upchuck
Obamaphones: Rife with Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

the hallmark and signature feature of this entire Administration is Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.

When Obama leaves office, people will finally understand just how badly he has bankrupt and run the country into the ground and left the cupboards bare.,

2 posted on 11/30/2013 10:46:51 AM PST by rdcbn
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To: upchuck

ping


3 posted on 11/30/2013 10:59:10 AM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (The Second Amendment, a Matter of Fact, Not a Matter of Opinion)
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To: upchuck

I’d really like to know if Obamaphones were used to deliver GOTV or other campaign messages in 2012. Nothing would surprise me.


4 posted on 11/30/2013 10:59:46 AM PST by Hetuck ("We will Barry you" - Nikita Khrushchev)
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To: rdcbn

Every government program has fraud, waste and abuse. Some programs more so than others.

This is why government should get out of charitable endeavors and let real, reputable charities do the job.


5 posted on 11/30/2013 11:03:30 AM PST by fatnotlazy
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To: upchuck
...rife with “waste, fraud and abuse.”

Only one solution, throw more money at it. /s

6 posted on 11/30/2013 11:04:58 AM PST by VRW Conspirator (Obama is a proven liar, an admitted liar, an unrepentent liar.)
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To: upchuck
Obamaphones: Rife with Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

Isn't that redundant?

7 posted on 11/30/2013 11:11:27 AM PST by depressed in 06 (America conceived in liberty, dies in slavery.)
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To: upchuck

The oversight has been appallingly lax.

I fell on hard enough times a couple years ago to qualify for an Obamaphone. I eventually found a job, out of town, but it beat being in a house that was headed for repossession who knew when.

When my first payment came, I contacted and begged out of the welfare programs I had been on. Foodstamps/SNAP stopped and my Obamaphone eligibility ended. Not seeing any instructions about what to do with such an Obamaphone other than keeping it, I kept it but did not certify any more. Safelink did not care! It kept re-upping the minutes. A few times I purchased additional time for the phone which worked. This went on for 15 months after my qualification ended. Someone still think I’m on SNAP? Not that I know of.

Sloppy, sloppy, SLOPPY! I’m just letting it go on (no certifications, of course) in order to see how far the stupid system goes, then I will tell whoever my Congresscreature happens to be.


8 posted on 11/30/2013 11:12:19 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (The Lion of Judah will roar again if you give him a big hug and a cheer and mean it. See my page.)
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To: upchuck
actually, Pres. Bush signed the “obamaphone” law.
Obama gets stuck with it. Seems appropriate, but not even close to even-steven.
9 posted on 11/30/2013 11:55:51 AM PST by stylin19a (Obama -> Fredo smart)
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To: upchuck
I have a $10 a month plan (before fees) with no minutes. If I have to use it, it's 25 cents a minute. I own the phone, no plan that has to be fullfilled. Even if I don't use it, I pay taxes, access fees etc.

The fee that bothers me the most is the one that subsidizes free Obama phones. Yup, I pay so those who qualify can have a free phone (no expenses at all) AND 250 free minutes!

I don't understand this at all. If the free phone were a landline, local calls and 800 numbers would be free. That would have to be cheaper than these 250 minute plans, and less open to abuse.

10 posted on 11/30/2013 12:06:28 PM PST by grania
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To: Mears

bfl


11 posted on 11/30/2013 12:11:01 PM PST by Mears
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To: Hetuck
I’d really like to know if Obamaphones were used to deliver GOTV or other campaign messages in 2012. Nothing would surprise me.”

This is EXACTLY what they did with these phones, I'll bet!!

The LoFo’s (I saw report on Fox) got constant e-mails / text messages that shamed them into voting, with statements like “you wouldn't want your neighbors to know you didn't vote, now would you?”

We have been bamboozled, lied to, and we've been scammed with out very own money. Gee, IRS going after conservatives, Karl Marx Rove dumping on Tea Party candidates and Dems lying through their teeth.

12 posted on 11/30/2013 2:31:53 PM PST by WaterWeWaitinFor (Would Winston Churchill stand still for all this nonsense? Cruz our new Churchill?)
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To: upchuck

13 posted on 11/30/2013 2:34:48 PM PST by Fresh Wind (The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.)
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To: grania
I don't understand this at all. If the free phone were a landline, local calls and 800 numbers would be free. That would have to be cheaper than these 250 minute plans, and less open to abuse.

Precisely! And that's the way it worked before cellphones. That's why I maintain the mistake was allowing cellphones into the program.

14 posted on 11/30/2013 4:00:48 PM PST by upchuck (I can't stand people that don't know the difference between 'your' and 'you're.' Their so stupid...)
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To: Fresh Wind

Famous for all the wrong reasons :)


15 posted on 11/30/2013 4:03:48 PM PST by upchuck (I can't stand people that don't know the difference between 'your' and 'you're.' Their so stupid...)
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To: stylin19a

So they are really “Bushphones” ?


16 posted on 11/30/2013 6:35:34 PM PST by Western Phil
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