U.S. Spent a Whopping $2.2 Billion Last Year on Obama Phones
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.
Suspecting that many of the new subscribers were ineligible, the Federal
Communications Commission tightened the rules last year and required
carriers to verify that existing subscribers were eligible. The agency
estimated 15% of users would be weeded out, but far more were dropped.