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Want a free phone? Go on welfare! $1 Billion toward free phones. And you wonder why over 50% of Americans don't pay income taxes.

Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy 2010/01/07 23:50:32
Cool - then I get to keep more of my earned income tax credit money - you know the tax I didn't pay!
How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stamps, welfare payments, child care, medicaid, low income rent,  - Is there gas subsidy too?  Just checking!
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Updated January 07, 2010
Tracking Your Taxes: Wireless Welfare
By William Lajeunesse
- FOXNews.com

If you own a phone, you're paying for the fastest growing welfare program in the U.S.: free cell phones for low-income Americans.

The program, which is paid for through a tax on all home phones and cell phones known as the Universal Service Charge, is expected to exceed $1 billion this year, according to Erik Iversen, spokesman for the Universal Service Fund, the quasi-governmental agency set up to administer the program.

That's up almost 20 percent over last year. And in some markets, the number receiving this benefit is exploding, up 600 percent in New Hampshire and up 900 percent in New Jersey in just two months, according to government figures.

"The reality is this is just frosting on an enormous cake," says Robert Rector, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation. "We spend over $800 billion a year providing various types of assistance to the poor. That's one dollar in every 20 in this economy. It's huge and we really can't afford it."

The goal of universal access to telephone service began in the 1930s for rural Americans and expanded to low-income individuals in 1997. The Federal Communications Commission approved the subsidy for cell phones under President Bush in 2008. Growth was slow until TracFone, a company out of Miami, figured out a way to use the $120-a-year government subsidy to provide a free phone and 60 minutes of free monthly service. Heavily promoted on television, the SafeLink program is a hit with eligible Americans.

"If they would give us free phones, that would be fantastic," said Lester Frasier, outside a welfare center in Los Angeles. "It will free up more money for me, that's one less bill for me."

While all 50 states currently use money collected from the Universal Serivce Fund for home phones, just 19 states have approved the subsidy for cell phones. California officials are considering it, but even advocates have concerns.

"Those who currently qualify for the land line subsidy might prefer, like everyone one else, to have a mobile phone," says Bill Nussbaum of the Utilities Reform Network. "But from a public safety perspective, what happens when the mobile phone leaves the house? When there is an emergency? What happens when the power goes out? Those are concerns."

Qualification for the subsidy is dependent on income. However, if a person is already enrolled in any of the popular federal welfare programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, low income housing, or the free school lunch, they are automatically eligible for a free cell phone. The cell phones are invaluable to many people trying to get contract or short-term work who do not have a phone number in their homes.

What concerns critics most is fraud. The program is supposed to be "self-verifying" -- that is, as long as a person claims they qualify for the subsidy, no government agency is auditing or enforcing the subscriber rolls.

"We are focused on the carrier and making sure the carriers are submitting the proper information to us," says Laura Bettencourt, an administrator of the Universal Service Fund. "We are not focused on the subscriber."

Rector says no one is guarding the hen house. So if an individual signs up for the program while on food stamps, then gets a job, no regulatory process exists to assure the subsidy ends.

"It certainly is a recipe for fraud, and one major problem with this type of program is that it doesn’t create any incentive for additional work or for moving toward self sufficiency," said Rector.

Read More: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/07/trackin...

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Top Opinion

  • NotWithoutAFight 2010/01/07 23:58:52
    How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stam...
    NotWithoutAFight
    +6
    We've got 3 more years of sharing the wealth.

    Just think...

    medicaid income rent gas subsidy checking 3 years sharing wealth

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  • ladypuppylove 2010/01/13 00:01:44
    Cool - then I get to keep more of my earned income tax credit money - you kno...
    ladypuppylove
    +1
    This program was designed to help people but i think it is the governments that is to blame because they should put a time limit on how long you can stay on this program , i have some young people that have bought a house on section 8 that is living next door to me i get up and go to work so they can lay on their ass , and talk on the phone or sell their food stamps, i am upset because this is my taxes that is being spent on young peole younger than me that will not work andthese are mexicans and some blacks and the yards are so nasty ,the way they keep their yards makes my value of my house go down, trash falling out of the garbage cans and when they put the trash into the cans the city empty them ,hell half of the trash fall out and it lays there until they take the trash out again and the wind blows it over in my yard , and they wonder why social security is going broke it is because if you take out and never put anything in then you will go broke, this is the worst generatkion of young people i have ever seen some of them , they dont care about anything or anybody malcom x said in the 60's if you give a black man a gun he will kill his own people, martin luther king said that a black man with a gun is a dangerest thing because he will hurt his own people the stealing the killing the murders welfare and section8 is robbing this countyr blind
  • safari 2010/01/12 05:18:24
    Undecided
    safari
  • Colbert 2010/01/08 07:03:38
    How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stam...
    Colbert
    I can shop at Wal-mart, buy Chinese goods for CHEAP, prices so cheap they put our citizens out of business, but who cares, now they can have free phones. I've been missing out. Here I come nanny state!
  • Unnamed 2010/01/08 03:40:39
    Undecided
    Unnamed
    +1
    I have a question: How come people on Welfare get income taxes? I know a woman who gets like $2,000.And my taxes are coming out of my check to pay welfare! I don't they should get Sh*t.Can anybody answer this?

    Can't blame it on Obama because it's been going way before he was
    President
  • Adam Troy 2010/01/08 03:08:00
    Undecided
    Adam Troy
    +2
    Hello:

    Well said. In fact, if one wants the absolute best health care in the whole of the United States, all one has to do is go on welfare or be incarsarated. Bye: Adam Troy
  • Manwé 2010/01/08 02:29:48 (edited)
    Undecided
    Manwé
    Only half-way unbiased choice you have for this question.

    The federal "Lifeline" program was created during the Reagan Administration. Lifeline is a federal program created by the Reagan era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1984. The program was enhanced under Telecommunications Act of 1996.

    In the May 8, 1997 First Report and Order (FCC 97-157), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established rules to govern Lifeline, Link Up, and Toll Limitation Service (TLS) program support - the three components of the Low Income Program.

    On June 30, 2000, the FCC amended its rules to "increase access to telecommunications services and subscribership among low-income individuals living on American Indian and Alaska Native lands."

    On April 29, 2004, the FCC released the Lifeline and Link Up Order (FCC 04-87) further modifying the Low Income Program. The new order expanded the eligibility criteria for qualifying consumers to include an income-based criterion and participation in National School Lunch free lunch program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as additional criteria.

    Cell phones are part of this service currently in Alabama, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Nor...








    Only half-way unbiased choice you have for this question.

    The federal "Lifeline" program was created during the Reagan Administration. Lifeline is a federal program created by the Reagan era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1984. The program was enhanced under Telecommunications Act of 1996.

    In the May 8, 1997 First Report and Order (FCC 97-157), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established rules to govern Lifeline, Link Up, and Toll Limitation Service (TLS) program support - the three components of the Low Income Program.

    On June 30, 2000, the FCC amended its rules to "increase access to telecommunications services and subscribership among low-income individuals living on American Indian and Alaska Native lands."

    On April 29, 2004, the FCC released the Lifeline and Link Up Order (FCC 04-87) further modifying the Low Income Program. The new order expanded the eligibility criteria for qualifying consumers to include an income-based criterion and participation in National School Lunch free lunch program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as additional criteria.

    Cell phones are part of this service currently in Alabama, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wahington, West Virginia and Wisconsin with expansion to other state soon.

    http://www.lifelinesupport.or...

    LIFELINE/SAFELINK FACT SHEET
    http://www.safelinkwireless.com

    http://www.factcheck.org/2009...

    http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consum...
    (more)
  • Ms. Mom... Manwé 2010/01/08 04:36:52
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +1
    No, the program was created in teh 1930's to provide communications to rural residents! AND, as usual, anything started by the federal government GROWS OUT OF CONTROL!
  • babibumer 2010/01/08 02:08:44
    How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stam...
    babibumer
    +1
    Holy crap! That is ridiculous! However, the top comment about 3 more years of "Sharing the Wealth" must have missed the part about how this program began in 2008 under President Bush - not Obama.
  • Ms. Mom... babibumer 2010/01/08 02:12:28 (edited)
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +1
    AND STARTED IN 1930'S 1930s !!!!!
  • babibumer Ms. Mom... 2010/01/08 02:56:05 (edited)
    babibumer
    +1
    Yep! Oh - and Look! There's the big SOCIALIST Winston Churchill who demanded that all British citizens should have access to health care after WWII - that going bankrupt and worrying about how to pay for health care should not be what British citizens should have to worry about when they're sick.
  • Ms. Mom... babibumer 2010/01/08 04:39:35
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +1
    And look what happend to England!!! Their system sucks and parliment is looking to replace it with HMO's - In fact they created a website to tell the British that they would guarantee NO MORE THAN 4 MONTH WAITING PERIODS FOR MEDICAL PROCEDURES!! EXPLAIN why cancer death rates in the UK are 25% higher than in the United States, eh?

    Take your socialism, your redistribution of hard earned money and the 50% of Americans who DON'T pay taxes to England.
  • Merl 2010/01/08 01:24:59
    Cool - then I get to keep more of my earned income tax credit money - you kno...
    Merl
    +2
    That's it I don't want it if I can't have a Iphone. The "poor" in this country have no clue what it is to be poor and those who mean to help them, with tax payer funds, should be shot!
  • justonemom 2010/01/08 00:59:55
    How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stam...
    justonemom
    +1
    This must be "Peggy's" dream come to fruition...we don't need to worry no mo...obama gonna help us pay our mortage, gas, and now phones too! Isn't it great to be an American?
  • Kane Fernau 2010/01/08 00:48:12
    How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stam...
    Kane Fernau
    +1
    We gotta keep in touch with our pimps, ho's and pushers!!!!
  • william 2010/01/08 00:46:20
    Undecided
    william
    +2
    attacking the free phone service is over the top .all acorn employees need this vital service to be able to manage ,finacial affairs , relating to pimping . whoring . and selling high quality crack. lets not forget the illegal . whos illegal residence depends on a text message being shot in a flash . to warn of a impending clash with i.n.s. have a heart.
  • No nonsense NanC...don't BS... 2010/01/08 00:34:26
    How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stam...
    No nonsense NanC...don't BS me!
  • The Gov-Here to help BN362 2010/01/08 00:13:47
    Undecided
    The Gov-Here to help BN362
    +3
    Lol, yeah..

    this is a really f***** bad idea.


    undecided lol yeah
  • Simmering Frog 2010/01/08 00:11:00
    Undecided
    Simmering Frog
    +2
    undecided

    Good one! Do you have any other jokes you can tell? What? This isn't a joke?
  • Ms. Mom... Simmeri... 2010/01/08 00:25:47
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +1
    I wish.
  • littlebuffalo55TBA 2010/01/08 00:07:44
    How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stam...
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +2
    Man O Man "Dole" sure is better than Pineapple!
  • DavE 2010/01/08 00:06:31
    Cool - then I get to keep more of my earned income tax credit money - you kno...
    DavE
    +3
    Freebies and more freebies with no incentive to work toward self sufficiency.
  • jr 2010/01/08 00:05:33
    Undecided
    jr
  • Sunny 2010/01/08 00:05:19 (edited)
    Undecided
    Sunny
    +2
    I have a Universal Line discount on my phone for being low-income/unemployed. It does not pay for the phone for me. It gives me a $5.00 a month discount and no long distance. Discounts for low-income people are OK but since we have landline subsidies already, I do not see a need for a subsidy (DISCOUNT) for cell phones (they would buy their own phone just like I bought my land line phone) unless it is for a homeless person and it is for basic limited local service and if they want more they should have to buy a pre-paid card. The idea is to be able to make an emergency call if necessary so more than basic service should not be necessary.
  • Evil 1 2010/01/08 00:01:42
    Undecided
    Evil 1
    +2
    And here is a picture of one of those oh so deserving welfare recepients putting the phone to good use at a food shelter!

    undecided picture deserving welfare recepients phone food shelter

    Doesn't it just warm your heart!
  • Ms. Mom... Evil 1 2010/01/08 00:03:03
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +1
    Great example.
  • Evil 1 Ms. Mom... 2010/01/08 00:06:38
    Evil 1
    +3
    Hell, feed them, cloth them, give them income, give them cars, give them cell phones. Is it any wonder they have no incentive to get off welfare and become self sufficient. We are creating a society of losers who feel they are entitled to everything and they want it all! These liberals need to realize the only problem with socialism is sooner or later you run out of the other guys money.
  • P 2010/01/08 00:01:40
    Undecided
    P
    +3
    Actually I am not undecided. I knew of this program. I opposed it when the Bush administration and the FCC approved it. Having had to deal with an extreme number of welfare recipients, I find this program a waste of money.
    I don't agree with you on much but I agree with you on this.
  • Ms. Mom... P 2010/01/08 00:03:31
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +2
    Well there's $1 Billion in savings!!
  • Angel 2010/01/07 23:59:05
    Undecided
    Angel
    +4
    wow , now we pay for the right for every one to have a cell phone.. I guess having a cell phone is no longer a privilege but a right ,
  • Ms. Mom... Angel 2010/01/07 23:59:55
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +3
    Yes. We must be "fair" all in the name of "social justice".
  • NotWithoutAFight 2010/01/07 23:58:52
    How did I miss this subsidy - let's see I have reduced power rates, food stam...
    NotWithoutAFight
    +6
    We've got 3 more years of sharing the wealth.

    Just think...

    medicaid income rent gas subsidy checking 3 years sharing wealth
  • Ms. Mom... NotWith... 2010/01/08 00:01:04
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +2
    That's a scary thought! scary scary
  • NotWith... Ms. Mom... 2010/01/08 00:06:26
    NotWithoutAFight
    +3
    Always eager they are, to give what isn't theirs to give.
  • P NotWith... 2010/01/08 00:10:32
    P
    You must realize that this was a program signed and sealed by the FCC and George W. Bush. It was implemented even before the elections were at hand.
  • NotWith... P 2010/01/08 00:14:20
    NotWithoutAFight
    +1
    Doesn't make it any better. But I could point out - it was meant for home phones.

    I'm not a great Bush fan so your point does nothing for me.
  • P NotWith... 2010/01/08 00:22:33
    P
    +1
    I was just pointing out the facts. And since it was actually a program that included Tracfone so it was an either or depending upon the situation. Either way is a bad idea
  • NotWith... P 2010/01/08 00:27:47
  • Ms. Mom... P 2010/01/08 00:29:04
    Ms. Mom - profits employ, taxes destroy
    +1
    The program actually started in 1930 for rural residents and was expanded LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE HANDS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

    There is no way of continued tracking of eligibility either.
  • P Ms. Mom... 2010/01/08 00:34:16
    P
    I didn't know about the 1930's. As for tracking eligibility, they could if they would but they won't.
  • VET03 P 2011/10/14 15:27:00
    VET03
    Cite please.

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