Print 73 comment(s) - last by LordanSS.. on Feb 14 at 6:34 PM

Carriers say most people drop simply didn't respond to requests

The United States government has collected a tax on phone lines under the Lifeline program that began back in 1984. The purpose of this tax was to provide phone service for people who were unable to afford it on their own to ensure that these people weren't cut off from emergency services, jobs, or family. Every American citizen who has a phone line has paid into this Lifeline program.

Payouts in the program in 2008 amounted to $819 million. In 2012, the U.S. government spent $2.2 billion providing free phone service to low-income Americans.
In an effort to squash government waste, the FCC believed that many of the Americans who were claiming the free phone service were not eligible so it tightened the rules last year forcing carriers to verify that existing subscribers were in fact eligible.

The Wall Street Journal reports that far more subscribers to the program were dropped than expected. A review has shown that the top five carrier recipients of Lifeline support had a total of 41% of over 6 million subscribers that couldn't demonstrate their eligibility or simply didn't respond to requests for certification.

These top five carriers were AT&T, Telrite Corp, Tag Mobile USA, Verizon, and Virgin Mobile. Together these carriers account for 34% of all Lifeline subscribers as of May 2012. The Lifeline program is open to subscribers that meet the federal poverty guidelines, are on food stamps, Medicaid, or other assistance programs.

Previous program rules allowed consumers to certify themselves for free phone service without having to prove they met federal poverty guidelines.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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RE: Nonsense
By Motoman on 2/13/2013 10:50:34 AM , Rating: 0
At most I think they should be afforded landline service to their residence. No one *needs* a cellphone. And at a bulk government rate, basic landline service probably wouldn't cost more than a couple bucks a month.

RE: Nonsense
By DanNeely on 2/13/2013 11:36:22 AM , Rating: 2
The same's true of bulk cellular access. At most they'd be paying the same as low end MVNOs; and the ones that don't do any sort of device subsidizing can afford to sell minutes for a few pennies each.


At this point I suspect a free landline program would be near useless since most of the (non-elderly) people who are eligible wouldn't take one even if offered; and even if they did take it would still spend $10/month for a cheapo pre-paid phone defeating the programs purpose.

RE: Nonsense
By Motoman on 2/13/2013 3:49:48 PM , Rating: 4
The problem with that is you still have to buy the cellphone itself...contrary to people's perceptions, cell phones aren't free.

Meanwhile, the cheap-but-usable $5 landline phone at Walmart can probably be had for $1 apiece to the government.

And if younger poverty-stricken people turn their nose up at a free landline, then f%ck 'em. You're poor. You know what they say about beggars and choosers.

IMHO if you've got any money at all to spend monthly on a cell phone, you're not in poverty. Because if you were, that would be the last thing you'd spend money on.

RE: Nonsense
By notathome on 2/13/2013 5:52:11 PM , Rating: 3
I totally agree with everything motoman has said. Nothing is free. If you are poor, you get the bottom line. That's a land line. If you can afford the luxury of a cell phone, buy it yourself.

RE: Nonsense
By Reclaimer77 on 2/13/2013 6:06:40 PM , Rating: 4
True "poverty" basically doesn't exist in America as a national issue. A stunning testament to America's capitalist system, "poverty" in America has been re-defined to mean people with roofs over their heads, three meals a day, a vehicle and all the creature comforts one would expect. That's "poverty" here.

I remember living in New Orleans and I had a friend from Brazil. He was living in what is called a "housing project", trust me, a place nobody wants to end up. But what was amazing to me is that he had NO concept of this. To him he was living in a really nice apartment with clean running water, central air and heat, electricity etc etc. Things we totally take for granted. You see "poverty" in Brazil means your ass is out on the street starving in a corner somewhere so nobody kicks your teeth in.

RE: Nonsense
By toyotabedzrock on 2/14/2013 1:13:27 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah it does, but that is ok keep fooling yourself. When they rob you I don't wanna hear you wine.

RE: Nonsense
By LordanSS on 2/14/2013 6:34:13 PM , Rating: 3
I'm from Brazil. I'll give you a couple examples. Poverty here varies depending on the region you're in.

Extreme poverty, Northeast region (semi-arid):

Poverty in Rio de Janeiro, a "favela":

Both are extremes of poverty here in Rio. First doesn't even have running water, no energy, nothing at all. Just a "roof" over their heads. The other has a couple more services, like electricity and water (many times stolen from the mains, tho). Some might even have cable TV but, again, most of the time is stolen signal.

So, indeed. Poverty in Brazil and poverty in the US are very, very different things.

RE: Nonsense
By NellyFromMA on 2/13/2013 1:11:00 PM , Rating: 2
The gov finds it convenient to have these people on gps trackers which is more important to them than their having access to a phone line at all seeing as they are the most likely to commit larceny or thefts as opposed to middle and upper class. Better to have the option than to not, plus this way you don't have the pre-paid problem where they can't ID the actual user because no name is verified or sometimes required to activate the line.

On that note, its ridiculous and just another example of waste that our government actually refuses to even assess. Amazing.

RE: Nonsense
By Noonecares on 2/13/2013 7:23:16 PM , Rating: 2
Larceny and theft you say. Crime doesn't pay says McGruff, but it pays when you get too big to fail. Besides I am sure it was the poor who caused the real estate crash...How many of those people involved with that went to jail? Where were Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? Why didn't that teacher in Conn use proper gun safety and storing measures, when she knew her kid was quite 'special'? But it wasn't their fault at all. Blame it on Saddam, Al Queada, assault rifles, and the poor. Welcome to the blame game. You are winning.

RE: Nonsense
By Reclaimer77 on 2/13/2013 7:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
Besides I am sure it was the poor who caused the real estate crash

They sure didn't help. Maybe if you're making $20k a year and you sign on a loan for a $300k house, you should ask yourself if you can actually afford it? Just a thought...

RE: Nonsense
By Noonecares on 2/13/2013 8:08:01 PM , Rating: 1
That is true. But the banks had a system where it shouldn't approve those people in the first place. Maybe we need to add a class to grade school. Money management skills or something similar.

RE: Nonsense
By BifurcatedBoat on 2/14/2013 4:03:15 PM , Rating: 4
They did have a system ...and then laws were passed so they couldn't use it. "Everybody deserves a home", said Clinton.

RE: Nonsense
By Jeffk464 on 2/13/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nonsense
By Reclaimer77 on 2/14/2013 12:03:18 AM , Rating: 3
Right it's "fraud" that banks were basically forced by the Government to make unwise loans, because it was "racist" to deny loans to people who probably couldn't pay them off. Nice spin lol.

Oh if you don't believe the banks were forced, umm yeah, Google is your friend. "Obama sued Citibank" is a good start.

I guess the truth is fluid though. If you deny a loan, it's "discrimination". If you make the loan and things go bad, it's "fraud".

RE: Nonsense
By insurgent on 2/14/2013 2:29:43 AM , Rating: 2
Google is your friend. "Obama sued Citibank" is a good start.

This was the top link:

RE: Nonsense
By Mint on 2/14/2013 4:43:45 AM , Rating: 2
This is DailyTech, where facts don't matter and any post scapegoating Obama gets rec'd.

From your link:
Specifically, the lawsuit charged that Citibank "rejected loan applications of minority applicants while approving loan applications filed by white applicants with similar financial characteristics and credit histories. "

Yeah, what a commie.

RE: Nonsense
By Noya on 2/13/2013 9:18:15 PM , Rating: 1
I couldn't have said it better...thumbs up.

RE: Nonsense
By Jeffk464 on 2/13/2013 9:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
gov finds it convenient to have these people on gps trackers

ah man you beat me to it, it wouldn't surprise me if this is the reason.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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