Trump to Reign in “Obamaphone” Program
“A budget induces careful spending.” Wise advice, especially for government. Who said that? Benjamin Franklin?
Nope. It’s Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and he currently has the wasteful, fraud-riddled Lifeline program (better known as the “Obamaphone program”) clearly in his sights.
Pai is taking steps on his own, and supporting measures in Congress, to cut out waste, fraud and abuse in a program that mushroomed during the Obama presidency, according to Breitbart.
Created by the Reagan administration in 1985, Lifeline provides subsidized landline phone service to low-income families. It was expanded under the George W. Bush administration to add wireless service and popularized by massive outreach campaigns during President Barack Obama’s administration.
Program advocates now want to see it expanded to provide internet service. Because everyone deserves free internet, right? Right?
Pai agrees with expansion of the program, but not at the expense of responsible spending. While still a commission member, prior to being named chairman by President Donald Trump in January, he disagreed with expansion because a spending cap was not in place.
The current annual budget is $2.25 billion. A bill now in Congress would cut that by almost half, setting the program spending cap at $1.5 billion, according to Axios.
Fraud is reportedly rampant in the program, and expansion requires that it be stopped.
A 2016 report of a $51 million fraud investigation of the program was not released until April 1, 2016, conveniently one day after the Democrat-heavy FCC was scheduled to vote on the expansion. Pai was sharply critical of the timing of the report at the time, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Now, he is in a position to keep the agency on budget.
The primary fraudster was Total Call Mobile, which enrolled fake Lifeline users by the tens of thousands, pocketing $9.7 million in federal subsidies. In true Democrat fashion, the Obama-led FCC pursued only a fraction of the identified cases, according to Breitbart.
In real money terms, the settlement should have been $84.2 million, not the $51 million in damages the FCC sought. But why should Democrats be concerned? After all, it’s only money. Your money.
Speaking of that, remember the “Obamaphone Lady?” Michelle Dowery of Cleveland, Ohio, became an internet sensation in 2012 when she worked for the Obama campaign, yelling at a reporter that Obama was giving “every minority a phone,” as long as you were on “food stamps, Social Security, got no income, disability.”
By 2013, Dowery, though, appeared on the Infowars founder Alex Jones’ YouTube channel to discuss her change of heart about Obama. The reason? She’d gotten a job as a maid, “and my first check is eaten up by taxes.”
Apparently, it finally occurred to her who pays for those subsidized phones.
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