Say it isn’t so. I laugh when people refer to the federal government’s cell phone as an Obamaphone. Certainly, the use of the program has exploded in the last few years, but it was started with landlines in 1984 and expanded to cell phones in 2005. This is part of the expansion of government “services” since the New Deal, but at least now we’re getting an idea of how much fraud was involved.
From the Wall Street Journal. At least the Obama administration took the step to request subscribers verify eligibility.
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 carriers — AT&T T Inc.; Telrite Corp.; Tag Mobile USA; Verizon Communications VZ Inc.; and the Virgin Mobile USA unit of Sprint Nextel Corp. – accounted for 34% of total Lifeline subscribers last May. Two of the other largest providers, TracFone Wireless Inc. and Nexus Communications Inc., asked the FCC to keep their counts confidential. Results for the full program weren’t available.
- Prior to the FCC rules change last year, subscribers did not have to verify eligibility with the carrier. They were allowed to self-verify.
- When the carriers were instructed by the FCC to reach out to verify eligibility, almost half of the subscribers were not eligible or ignored the request.
I get the impression from the article those who could not verify eligibility had their services shut off. You would think there would be a huge outcry by the 40 percent of subscribers who were cut off, but curiously … nobody seems to be complaining.
This federal government redistribution program (that’s what it is) “legally” steals money from subscribers and provides free or extremely low-cost services to others, while the carrier is provided a profit. For years this fraud was allowed to continue, and I’m willing to bet nobody will be blamed. The US government ”spent about $2.2 billion last year to provide phones to low-income Americans.”
We have years of data about who received the services and never verified eligibility. How about we demand they pay for the services received and provide a refund to those who paid the bills?