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Bankrupting America’s Wednesday Waste

Posted: February 14, 2013 at 8:05 am   /   by

Wednesday Waste: Phoning It In on Federal Phone Subsidies

The Lifeline program was initiated by the Federal Government in 1984 to ensure that the most disadvantaged and vulnerable Americans had access to basic phone service. As of last year, the program has expanded to a price tag of $2.2 billion, and as the Wall Street Journal reveals, some 41 percent of service recipients were unwilling or unable to prove they qualify for the program.

That’s a potential $902 million pocketed by callers looking for cheap service who didn’t need the help.

Instead of being an aid to Americans below federal poverty standards or reliant on food stamps, some suspect that the program is in danger of becoming a way for service providers to swell their customer base on the public dime, while giving well-heeled cheapskates a way to artificially lower their texting bill.

Spending on the Lifeline phone subsidy program has more than doubled since 2008, and with the prevailing big-spending attitude in Washington, could quickly go from well-intentioned safety net to just another costly crony handout. is an educational project of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing facts and insight on the effects public policy has on Americans’ financial well-being.

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Bankrupting America's Wednesday Waste