by Rep Tim Griffin
I’ve heard from many Arkansans about one wasteful Washington program that’s riddled with instances of abuse. It’s a government-run, taxpayer-funded program that’s running wild and costing more and more. The evidence is stacking up: dead people are receiving free cell phones in the mail, eligible and ineligible individuals are obtaining more than one, and electronic kiosks have been stationed in convenience stores to spread the word about this “free” opportunity. The truth is, though, that taxpayers are footing the bill. The program is called Lifeline, but in reality it’s turned into Uncle Sam’s Unlimited Plan. My bill returns the Lifeline program back to its original structure by ending federal subsidies for free cell phone services. This growing government cell phone program is costing American consumers and taxpayers, and my bill puts an end to it.
The Lifeline Program was established in 1984 to subsidize landline phone service for low-income individuals. Under the program, telecommunications carriers submit reimbursement requests to the government-run Universal Service Fund (USF) to receive a subsidy for services provided to qualifying low-income subscribers. The USF is funded through fees collected from telecommunications carriers which are directly passed onto their customers, as part their telephone bill.
In 2008, the Lifeline Program was expanded to include wireless service providers. Between 2008 and 2009, non-landline costs for the program doubled – from $143 million to $384 million – and then doubled again, totaling over $719 million in 2010. Before the certification of the first wireless carrier, the overall Lifeline Program cost $822 million per year, an amount consistent with the previous five years. That number grew to $1.025 billion in 2009 and to $1.315 billion in 2010. According to the Federal Communications Commission, it is common for multiple wireless service providers to seek reimbursement for Lifeline services provided to the same household.How the Lifeline cell phone program is being advertised
Real advertisements from around the country.