Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Carson: Free Cell Phones Not Paid For By Tax Dollars

An obscure federal program that provides free cell phone service to certain income-qualified persons drew attention after critics of the program complained that the Obama administration was using free cell phones paid for by a tax on land line and cell phone users to purchase votes in this years's presidential election. This week, WTHR investigates took a look at the free cell phone program without once mentioning how it was marketed by the Obama administration to win votes for Obama's re-election. The cost of the federal Lifeline program have skyrocketed from $772 million when Obama took office in 2008 to $1.6 billion by last year. In the state of Ohio alone, which was considered the number one battleground state in this year's presidential election, the program issued more than 1 million free cell phones! What caught my attention in WTHR's report was a defense of the program by U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, who insists it's not paid for by taxpayer dollars.

But Indiana Representative André Carson defends the cell phone component of Lifeline. In a statement to 13 investigates, Carson said, "We should always look for ways to improve these programs, but Lifeline is a valuable and effective, bipartisan tool. And it doesn't rely on a single tax dollar."
Jim Bryant disagrees.
"It's mandatory, so it's a tax," he said.
"Sounds good for the people who's getting the free phones, not for the people who's paying for the people to get free phones," said one couple.
The FCC audited the Lifeline program last year, uncovering 400,000 instances of multiple phones distributed to individual people. In Indiana alone, 16 percent of people who got free cell phones did not qualify for the program.
As WTHR explains, the FCC ordered phone companies to provide basic phone services for free to low-income persons; however, it permits the phone companies to impose a universal service charge on phone customers to pay for the program. A typical phone user pays $4.83 a month for the service, or about $60 a year. Recipients of Medicaid, food stamps, Section 8 housing and persons who qualify for a free or reduced school lunch program qualify for free phone service. The FCC pays phone companies $9.25 per customer per month to support the program. Unbelievably, users of the free cell phone service complained to WTHR that they only get 250 minutes a month of use on their cell phone, which they say they consume in as little as three days. That has led to abuses in the program. Free users simply go to other providers to get additional free cell phones thanks to the tax you pay every month on your phone bill. Yes, Rep. Carson, it is a tax.


Unigov said...

Carson. Sheesh. I guess he thinks the federal access charge is a user fee ?

Reminds me of the corn-ethanol proponent who appeared on a local radio investment show. Ethanol guy said the $6 billion annual ethanol subsidy wasn't really a subsidy at all, it was a voluntary payment.

M Theory said...

I'm having a flashback to the summer of 1982. It was the summer MTV was new and I had my first apartment.

I remember how hard it was when I was 20 to afford a phone. My roommates and I literally had to SAVE (what a concept) to get a landline for a phone we SHARED!

Then if we called long distance, we had sky high bills.

We were very poor. I made minimum wage and so did my roommates.

There was one week (after paying for the $90 phone deposit) that we literally had no food in the house except popcorn and teabags. So we ate popcorn and iced tea for most of that week.

I remember sitting down each month to figure out who owed which long distance charges.

As poor as we were, we never once thought we were owed a phone for emergencies.

The other option to not having a landline phone connected to our living room wall, was to put some change in the pay phone across the street.

The next year, when I lived by myself, I couldn't afford a phone at all. So, I did without. I used to have to call home from a pay phone! I also wrote letters and mailed them snail mail!

Funny thing is that I survived all this. You could even say it helped shaped character because I learned to WORK for what I wanted in life.

I don't think it would hurt these folks a bit to use the payphone like we used to have to do or go without.

Nothing ever happened to us for lack of a phone.

M Theory said...

And if the phone was TRULY a "lifeline", as advertised, then it would work only to call *911.

This is nothing but another forced extortion from people who work to give money for a luxury to people who don't work in exchange for votes.

Unknown said...

Carson is a Socialist and a liar.

CircleCityScribe said...

Not a tax? -Has Andre Carson been smoking in Colorado????

It certainly is NOT a user fee, since I don't get to use the free phone, I PAY FOR IT as a fee on my phone bill. It sickens me to see the ignorant bragging how they get one for every welfare recipient in their household.

Want a true "Lifeline", then make them get a single basic landline phone, and only one landline per welfare-receiving residence!

patriot paul said...

The Free Obama Phone truckmobile stopped recently on W.38th & High School Rd. I checked it out and because I was not in sec.8 housing, food stamps, or any government assistance, I didn't qualify. I was told (quote): "You gotta have free stuff to get free stuff".

CircleCityScribe said...

Please watch the video provided on Advance Indiana on this thread, then consider the following quote:

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America . Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president."

CircleCityScribe said...

Andre Carson is "Our Fool on Capitol Hill!