Tuesday, February 12, 2013

We the Feds Part IV -- Phones for the Poor

Phone subsidies, like most subsidies to allegedly low-income recipients, are a rip.  

You know how this works.  Give a program a name that implies it's low cost and/or people can't live without it; then take a hands off attitude on administration and open the floodgates. The phones for the poor lobby nailed the formula, advocating reduced "Lifeline" rates, subsidized directly to the tune of  $2.2 billion last year. To fund their feel-good program, the phone give-away crowd got the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to tack additional monthly fees on top of phones bills paid by ordinary telephone customers like you and me.  Under the guidance and purview of Obama's FCC, subsidies almost tripled.  Free minutes!  Free phones!  Join the party. 

Lifeline program growth was so outrageous that FCC was embarassed  into requiring the takers to verify eligibility.  The results?  No statistical summary or data reports from the Obama controlled FCC, which doesn't want to expose the outrageous payoffs progressives are generating for Obama's constituency. Transparency in the world of Obama is a joke.  So the Wall Street Journal went to telecoms and got straight answers from some of the largest Lifeline providers.  

The agency estimated 15% of users would be weeded out, but far more were dropped.  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.
Even if we assume the 59 percent who passed muster really need us to pay for their iPhone service, the other 40 percent has been a pure waste.  The takers couldn't or wouldn't be bothered to document or certify eligibility.  

This is not an isolated situation.  Both in Arlington and in Bozeman my kids have attended schools that have a high proportion of students eligible for free or reduced rate lunches.  I've observed fraudulent behavior many times, parents making up answers to questions on eligibility forms to qualify their kids. They ask, "How low do I need to go?"  I don't know how many food stamp recipients I've seen waltz out of the grocery story into a Mercedes, a Lexus or a BMW, or a brand new $40,000 souped up, leather seated, extended cab pickup truck.  The fraud is rampant.  The abuse is rampant.  You've elected a President who doesn't want to do anything about it.  Shame.

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