Between 2008 and 2011, the budget appropriated for the nation's food stamps program more than doubled -- from $35 billion to $75 billion. But providing food for the poor is only part of the federal government's efforts to help those less fortunate.
A taxpayer-funded program called Lifeline also provides free phones and minutes to anyone receiving food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, Head Start and several other government programs. This "phone stamps" program reportedly costs taxpayers $2.1 billion each year. And without major reforms, the FCC predicts the cost of Lifeline will reach $3.3 billion by 2014.
Breitbart's John Sexton rightly wonders why American consumers are providing free cell phones to 10 million people in the first place:
As you can see in this video report from a Chicago ABC affiliate, some people signing up for these free phones are doing so to replace cell phones they already have (and have to pay for). If the goal is really to connect individuals to essential services such as fire and police, FCC rules already mandate that carriers transmit those calls along with detailed location information regardless of whether an individual has service with a carrier or not. Given our debt and our deficits, it is time to consider hanging up on this booming, fraud-ridden Lifeline to taxpayer's wallets.
By the time you figure the amount of food assistance, housing assistance, utility assistance, etc., it really is amazing that anyone living in poverty ever gets out of it.