Let’s first dispel the notion that President Obama was involved in distributing free mobile phones to the underserved community. The title Obama Phone originated from President Barack Obama, who only expanded the Lifeline program to include wireless service providers allowing more Americans access to communication. President George W. Bush added the mobile phone component to this program after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was funded by the government and was initiated by President Ronald Reagan.
Some contend that President Obama is distributing new cell phones and pre-paid minutes to welfare recipients and establishing a program to provide low-income Americans with free phones at the taxpayer’s expense. Although low-income households have long been eligible for discounted phone services, the program is funded by telecommunications companies rather than taxes, and the president of the United States has nothing to do with it, according to fact-checking.
A program run by the state and federal governments of the United States grants low-income individuals as well as senior citizens free cell phones and talk time. The Lifeline phones assistance program is the name of this subsidized program. The Lifeline Program is a government assistance program that began in 1985 and offers eligible low-income customers discounts on phone service. Under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is in charge of running the Lifeline program. Customers are eligible if enrolled in particular government benefit programs or earn less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
A Government Accountability Office study of Lifeline, one of four FCC programs funded by the Universal Service Fund, has recently brought the program back into the news, primarily on conservative websites. Seto Bagdoyan of the GAO says the fund has grown to about $10 billion. GAO discovered the following issues: The funds are held in a private bank that the FCC manages for $1.7 million annually. Bagdoyan stated in an interview that even his team of forensic auditors was still determining the obscure origins of this arrangement. It is from when the fund started. The fund will now be transferred to a Treasury account, where it belongs.
GAO also criticized Lifeline’s administration by the FCC. Carriers, Lifeline contractors, and call centers are all part of a complicated, multi-tiered arrangement that the agency tries to keep under control. It is impossible to estimate the amount of fraud and abuse occurring because of everything. FCC faces a long-term challenge in resolving this issue. However, at this time, the GAO could not ascertain how many of a sample of 3 million Lifeline recipients meet the eligibility requirements due to participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Social Security disability.
In conclusion, people who meet the requirements can get free phone assistance, but this is not a program run by the Obama administration. American taxpayers support the program, but not through federal income taxes. Up to 35% of Americans meet the eligibility requirements for the Lifeline program, which currently has over 8 million participants.