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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/27/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Called 'Obama phones,' program has cost taxpayers $1.6 billion

A program to provide low-income Americans with free cell phones - including the phone, free minutes and no contracts - has recently incurred the wrath of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The irascible Rush was surprised to just recently learn of the program, which has been in effect for awhile and has been dubbed by the public as "Obama phones."

'They've spent $1.6 billion, up $772 million since 2008. SafeLink is one of these free Lifeline providers (they're the biggest, in fact) and, if you get food stamps, you can get a free cell phone,' Rush Limbaugh says.

"They've spent $1.6 billion, up $772 million since 2008. SafeLink is one of these free Lifeline providers (they're the biggest, in fact) and, if you get food stamps, you can get a free cell phone," Rush Limbaugh says.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/27/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Free cell phones, free minutes, President Obama, Obama phones


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The federal program paid out $1.6 billion to pay for free cell phones and the monthly bills of 12.5 million wireless accounts. Overseen by the FCC and intended to help low-income Americans, the program has been a popular one. Participation in the program has risen since 2008. Initially costing $772 million for phones, since Obama, $772 million has become $1.6 billion -- more than doubled.

"But observers complain that the program suffers from poor oversight, in which phones go to people who don't qualify, and hundreds of thousands of those who do qualify have more than one phone," Limbaugh says.

"They're not smart phones at least, but that's probably coming."

The program also covers 250 free minutes each month. As many as 5.5 million residents in Pennsylvania alone could qualify for the program, which is funded primarily by the Universal Service Fund fee added to the bills of land-line and wireless customers.

"Some of these people have more than two phones, more than two accounts. That's the thing. Obama's stash. What else is in there," Limbaugh queries.

Called SafeLink, the program costs $1.6 billion from taxpayers and your phone bills, to pay for 12.5 million Americans to have free cell phones and free cell usage of 250 minutes a month. Limbaugh also says that a program, ostensibly charitable in nature, is especially blatant in trying to rope in others to take advantage of the program.

"They buy space in magazines and so forth, and this is one of the many ways in which you can apply. From the SafeLink website: 'How to qualify: If you already participate in other state or federal assistance programs such as federal public housing,' you're qualified.

"'If your total household income is at or below 135 percent of the poverty guidelines set by your state and/or the federal government...'" Sounds to me like they're trying to 'trick' poor people into getting free phones here, just like they 'tricked' people into getting mortgages. This is a trick!" Limbaugh says.

The advertisement goes on to say, "You can get an additional free 100 minutes if you recommend a friend. . Pay nothing! No bills, no contracts, no credit checks, no hidden fees."

"They've spent $1.6 billion, up $772 million since 2008. SafeLink is one of these free Lifeline providers (they're the biggest, in fact) and, if you get food stamps, you can get a free cell phone," Limbaugh says. 

Here is the Free Phone website -

https://www.safelinkwireless.com/Enrollment/Safelink/en/Public/NewHome.html

.

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