You might remember the so-called “Obama phone lady” who pleaded for the president’s reelection last fall because he “gave us a phone” and “he gonna do more.” And do more he did.
Since 2008, spending for the low-income phone handout has skyrocketed to more than $2 billion. But the Wall Street Journal notes that the federal phone program is wildly fraudulent:
The U.S. government spent about $2.2 billion last year to provide phones to low-income Americans, but a Wall Street Journal review of the program shows that a large number of those who received the phones haven’t proved they are eligible to receive them.
The Lifeline program—begun in 1984 to ensure that poor people aren’t cut off from jobs, families and emergency services—is funded by charges that appear on the monthly bills of every landline and wireless-phone customer. Payouts under the program have shot up from $819 million in 2008, as more wireless carriers have persuaded regulators to let them offer the service.
Suspecting that many of the new subscribers were ineligible, the Federal Communications Commission tightened the rules last year and required carriers to verify that existing subscribers were eligible. The agency estimated 15% of users would be weeded out, but far more were dropped.
A review of five top recipients of Lifeline support conducted by the FCC for the Journal showed that 41% of their more than six million subscribers either couldn’t demonstrate their eligibility or didn’t respond to requests for certification.
I like stories that expose government fraud. Even more, I love a good jingle about exposed government fraud. Take it away, Obama phone lady: