Today Project Veritas released a video exposing the outrageous waste, fraud and abuse that comes with the free government cell phone program, “Lifeline” aka “ObamaPhones”.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced legislation, earlier this year, to eliminate this wasteful welfare subsidy but his efforts have been unsuccessful because Democrats control the Senate..
Vitter made the following statement following the release of O’Keefe’s video:
“The free government cell phones issue just keeps getting more outrageous,” Vitter said. “This phone program has expanded far beyond its original intent, and having Washington force people to pay for free cell phones for others is offensive enough, but the waste, fraud and abuse is beyond words.”In March, Vitter first introduced his legislation as an amendment to the Senate budget resolution. The amendment failed 46-to-53. Click here to see the vote results. Vitter also introduced the legislation as an amendment to the Farm Bill recently, but a vote was blocked by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid.TracFone, the largest beneficiary of the free cell phones, receiving more than $1.5 billion and $440 million in 2012 from the free cell phone program, recently ran attack ads against Vitter due to his efforts to eliminate the fraudulent program. Click here for more. A TracFone subsidiary, SafeLink Wireless, was sending text messages to cell phone recipients that read: “Save Lifeline! Call Sen Landrieu at 202-224-3121. Due to Sen. Vitter program is in jeopardy.”
The Lifeline Program was created in 1984 to expand landline services for low-income households through the Universal Service Fund (USF). The program supporting mobile phones was expanded in 2008 to include wireless service provider and has grown from $143 million in 2008 to nearly $2 billion in 2012.
Carlos Slim, world’s richest man, has gotten richer supplying free ‘Obamaphones’ to people, Fox News reported, last Fall.
Carlos Slim, who has an estimated net worth of $70 billion, owns a controlling stake in TracFone, which makes $10 per phone for each device it provides to poor Americans. The company, whose president and CEO is Frederick “F.J.” Pollak, also makes money from extra minutes and data plans it sells to subscribers who get phones and service through the government’s Lifeline program. The program, which began in the mid-1980s, has exploded in the past four years after being expanded from supplying landlines to the poor to providing cellular phones.
The phones came into the national spotlight after a viral video surfaced on YouTube in which a Cleveland, Ohio, woman praised the president, saying he needed to be re-elected because he gives out free phones.
An interesting aside: Cesar Conda, Senator Rubio’s Chief of Staff was once a lobbyist for TracFone.