- The Washington Times - Friday, April 1, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Remember the Obamaphone?

“Everybody in Cleveland have got Obamaphone, keep Obama as president, you know?” said Michelle Dowery, an Obama supporter at a 2012 Mitt Romney event, which went viral at the time. “He gave us a phone, he’s going to do more. … You sign up, you on food stamps, you on Social Security, you got no income, you got disability.”

Mr. Obama has indeed done more.

The Federal Communications Commission agreed Thursday to expand the Obamaphone, dubbed the LifeLine Program, to include high-speed Internet access. By doing so, the cost of the program will increase by 50 percent, without any efforts to reduce spending elsewhere, or clamp down on the program’s waste, fraud and abuse.

“Failing a major change in direction, the FCC is preparing to massively expand the size and scope of the Lifeline Program without the necessary inclusion of a hard budget or financial constraints,” conservative FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly wrote in his blog on the commission’s website.

“Such irresponsible action will balloon a program plagued by waste, fraud, and abuse and result in higher phone bills for every American — including those already struggling in the current economy. In sum, it’s a recipe for disaster, and I can’t and won’t be part of it,” he said.

The Lifeline program currently, is rife with waste, fraud and abuse.

“The typical Lifeline subsidy is $9.25 per month,” Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai, explained in the National Review. “But those who live on lands designated as ‘tribal’ receive $34.25 per month, whether or not they are Native Americans. You might not think that this is a big deal, but here’s the rub. The FCC currently treats virtually all of Oklahoma as tribal land. So, for example, a non–Native American living in Tulsa is eligible for $300 more per year in phone subsidies than a low-income person in East Los Angeles or Appalachia.”

Politico reported the Republican commissioners were close to striking a deal with the democratic controlled FCC to cap the program’s spending at $2 billion and include reforms. However, at the last minute Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn backed out due to political pressuring. The new program passed 3-2 on partisan lines.

Ms. Dowery must be thrilled.

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