Arizona Congressman Wants to “Hang Up” Free Cell Phone Program

Ever get frustrated with your cell phone bill?  What if you could get both your cell phone, and a healthy number of minutes each month at no cost?  According to the experts at www.govcellphones.com, that’s all possible, and more, courtesy of the U.S. Government.  The “and more” is bonuses that are possible because of lax oversight of the program.   These loopholes get created because despite program rules that disallow it, applicants are able to apply for the benefit over and over, having multiple cell phones, each with free calling plans.  And, Arizona Congressional Representative recently shared his feelings with the popular website ” The Daily Caller“, saying this:

“…the program absolutely exploded and has become a nightmare…People are not only getting [one free cell phone], they’re getting multiples. There are reports of people getting 10, 20, 30 — just routinely getting more than one, selling them, storing them up, whatever…”

The annual bill for the program recently started to exceed one billion dollars, and is likely to soon be a point of contention with Congress, not to mention the general public.  The Lifeline program, as it’s called, was created with the purpose of  providing cost subsidized phones and service to lower-income Americans.  In the beginning, the service was restricted to home phone service via landline, but mobile phones were later added as a benefit.

Representative Griffen was so taken aback by the program’s state that he created a special page on his website to outline the issues at http://griffin.house.gov/lifeline.   Some interesting excerpts from the page:

“The evidence is stacking up: dead people are receiving free cell phones in the mail, eligible and ineligible individuals are obtaining more than one, and electronic kiosks have been stationed in convenience stores to spread the word about this ‘free’ opportunity”

Video: How the Government Cell Phone Giveaway Is Costing You Billions

The sad truth about this “free program”, of course, it’s that it’s not free for those that do pay for phone service. The Lifeline program is a large part of Federal Universal Service Fund, which was supposed to be replenished with payments from all telecommunications companies. In practice, the phone companies just pass the charge back to their customers…even labeling it as “Universal Service Fee” on most bills. This effectively makes the “free phones” an unofficial tax on anyone that does pay for phone service.