- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One of the companies tasked with providing free phones under the federal Lifeline program has taken to the Internet for a public relations push to counteract negative Obamaphone perceptions.

The flashing banner ad, Breitbart reported: “Obamaphone? Obamaphone? Think again. Lifeline. Created by Reagan.”

And another ad: “Impact on the deficit? Zero.” Clicking on the ads leads to a website run by TracFone and an explanation that the company has partnered with the Federal Communications Commission to reform the program.

The push comes at a time when congressional moves are afoot to abolish the program, or at least rein in its costs to its root President Reagan days.

Rep. Tim Griffin, Arkansas Republican, said he has introduced a bill to repeal the phone program — which initially was aimed at helping poor people connect with emergency services — because he’s “heard from many Arkansans about one wasteful Washington program that’s riddled with instances of abuse,” Breitbart reported.

The advertising campaign has an uphill climb. Mention of the program still hearkens back to September 2012, when a loud Mitt Romney protester in Bedford, Ohio, explained why Americans should vote for President Obama: “Everybody in Cleveland … got an Obamaphone. … Keep Obama as president you know … he gave us a phone,” she said in a YouTube video that went viral.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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