December 20, 2013
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally started to crack down on waste and fraud in its phone subsidy program for the poor by compiling a database of subscribers.
The $1.85 billion program, called Lifeline, and popularly referred to as the “Obama Phone” program after a viral video of a woman saying she would vote for President Obama because he gave her a free phone, was started in 1984 so that the poor could communicate with families, emergency services, and jobs. The program, which pays for their phone service but not the phones, has been funded by charges on the monthly bills of every landline and wireless-phone customer.
Some of the companies receiving funding through Lifeline offer free phones to subscribers. As of early 2013, Lifeline paid carriers $9.25 per subscriber per month for free or discounted wireless service.