Republican Proposal Would Eliminate Lifeline Cell Service for Poor
A new bill proposed by Rep. Austin Scott in Georgia aims to take free cell phones and service away from low-income Americans. The End Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act (H.R. 3546) would eliminate the Lifeline Program's subsidy for mobile service, allowing it to be used for landlines only. "Hardworking American taxpayers are already overburdened and should not be forced to pay for a program that has vastly expanded beyond its intended scope and is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse,” said Rep. Scott. The program originated under President Ronald Reagin in 1985 and aimed to help provide basic landline services to those who couldn't afford it. The program was expanded to cellular service under President George W. Bush in 2005, and again under President Barack Obama to provide free basic phones. It is funded by the Universal Service Fund, a surcharge that appears on most phone bills. “My bill will ... prohibit Universal Service support for mobile services. In order to promote government accountability, cut government fraud and waste, and protect consumers from further increases to their phone bills, the Lifeline Program’s free cell phone plans should end." The program has been rife with fraud in recent years, with many ineligible consumers taking advantage of the service. A study published in June by the U.S. Government Accountability Office suggests $1.2 million in cell phone subsidies went to fake or deceased people. Further, the GAO could not verify that 36% of the program's subscribers were indeed eligible for Lifeline services. Scott has prosed similar legislation before. The National Consumer Law Center said of an earlier version of Scott's proposal, "The bill would undercut an essential anti-poverty program that connects families to emergency services, children to educational opportunities, and parents to jobs."
FCC Sues Company $63M for Using Lifeline Funds to Buy Ferrari
Oct 23, 2018
The FCC today proposed a fine of more than $63 million against American Broadband and Telecommunications Company for violating rules regarding the Lifeline program. The company, a wireless reseller based in Ohio, "improperly sought and received Lifeline funding by creating numerous ineligible Lifeline subscriber accounts." For example, the company created accounts for some 12,000 deceased persons, as well as manipulated the personal data (names, social security numbers) of existing Lifeline customers.
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The FCC says Total Call Mobile abused the Lifeline program and received millions in improper reimbursements for duplicate and ineligible consumers. The FCC alleges that Total Call Mobile employees "willfully and repeatedly" violated FCC rules regarding Lifeline enrollment and unjustly enriched the company.
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No Lifeline? Blame the Republicans!
Please elaborate as to how it would "undercut" the fraud and abuse which is the main reason that eliminating it is intended to do. Landlines do the same and for years it was used with resounding success. Emergency services, employment and other services function just as well from landlines.
When the introduction of the mobile phone version was introduced it was not intended for people to use it just for a free phone with free minutes and to fraud and abuse the system.