Not only are taxpayers shelling out big bucks for “Obamaphones,” but the program appears to be rife with fraud. As many as 41% of those getting the phones couldn’t, or wouldn’t, prove their eligibility.
The U.S. government spent about $2.2 billion last year to provide phones to low-income Americans, but a Wall Street Journal review of the program shows that a large number of those who received the phones haven’t proved they are eligible to receive them.
The Lifeline program—begun in 1984 to ensure that poor people aren’t cut off from jobs, families and emergency services—is funded by charges that appear on the monthly bills of every landline and wireless-phone customer. Payouts under the program have shot up from $819 million in 2008, as more wireless carriers have persuaded regulators to let them offer the service.
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 Obamaphones issue seems like a microcosm for American politics today. On one hand we have government-as-Santa-Claus crowd who win support from the masses with taxpayer-funded goodies. On the other hand, we have the limit-government crowd who have to be the grown ups and tell the people that we can’t afford all the goodies.
Guess which side has been winning the debate with the American people of late?