Who is minding your money for these phone subsidies?
Did you know that YOUR taxpayer dollars are being spent on subsidizing the phone service for others? Absolutely!
A recent Wall Street Journal review of the “Lifeline” phone subsidy program reports that many who received the phones have not provided the proof that they are even eligible to receive this subsidy—that YOU pay for!
The United States government spent about $2.2 BILLION in 2012 to GIVE PHONES to LOW-INCOME Americans. That’s up from $819 million in 2008! Please tell Congress to STOP funding this program if the FCC continues to spend YOUR hard-earned money!
The rapid increase was driven by a surge in involvement in the program by supposed prepaid carriers, or wireless carriers that deliver service without a long-term contract.
This “Lifeline” program provides phone service to all Americans, via the Communications Act of 1934. The 1984 divestiture of AT&T caused the Lifeline program to ensure that any increase in local rates following the Ma Bell break-up would NOT put local phone service out of reach for low-income households. The federal government, through the Federal Communications Commission, gives taxpayer money to phone service providers who participate in this “worthy” program. BUT---
The abuse is widespread!
There is a list of guidelines for people to be eligible. The in-depth Wall Street Journal report indicates that a majority of low-income Americans who received this special government-assisted entitlement did NOT qualify for the program. A majority!
Of course we want to do all to help our less fortunate Americans to get a chance to do better, economically. BUT, do you realize what this means for YOU? As an American taxpayer, this report sheds light on the fact that OVER $1,000,000,000.00 has been spent on people who are NOT eligible! Your money has not only been improperly spent on people who do not qualify as “low-income” families for this program, YOUR money again, has been misappropriated!
Here is how your money is currently spent on Lifeline. This program, how “noble” it sounds, is subjected to:
Yet the FCC is not doing too much about it!
Please help to alert Congress on the fraud and abuse of this Lifeline program today, to help save YOUR taxpayer dollars.
Federal rules prohibit low-income consumers from receiving more than one Lifeline discount per household. With a federal bureaucracy in place, do you think this federal rule is being enforced?
In order to participate in this program, low-income families must have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or participate in qualifying state, federal or Tribal assistance programs (for instance, Medicaid, etc.)
The Wall Street Journal investigative report asserts: “Until last year, FCC rules didn’t require carriers to certify to the FCC that subscribers were eligible. Consumers could self-certify, and in many states documentation wasn’t required. Carriers said many of the disqualified subscribers simply didn’t reply when asked to prove their eligibility. They also said the FCC rules on self-certification, and the absence of a national database of participants, made it hard to keep ineligible people from signing up.
“The FCC said it is investigating allegations that some Lifeline providers violated the rules, though it declined to comment on that probe. Carriers that don’t properly confirm eligibility can be fined up to $150,000 for each violation for each day of continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1.5 million. In egregious cases, a carrier could lose its ability to participate in the program.”
Many carriers have said it has been extremely difficult to verify the “one-phone-per-household” rule. Permitting people to “SELF-CERTIFY?” What kind of certification is that? That gives a license for criminally minded people to not obey the rules and regulations. We need to notify Congress to have more jurisdiction over this Lifeline Program. It is out of control and the FCC appears unable to rein in those who have fraud and abuse of the program in mind!
What is the FCC’s reply to this taking of your taxpayer money?
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “The (Lifeline) program rules we inherited were designed for the age of the rotary phone and failed to protect the program from abuse.”
By January 31, 2013, carriers were required to report the number of subscribers they had removed from Lifeline as of the end of last year. From that data, the Wall Street Journal reported the findings of MILLIONS of improperly claimed phone subsidies---PAID BY YOU!
Please help to ALERT CONGRESS to the BILLION-DOLLAR WASTE of your taxpayer money! Tell them to STOP FUNDING Lifeline until the waste is eliminated!