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Paying for 'Obamaphones': A poor connection

| Friday, July 7, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

What was supposed to be a lifeline intended to connect the poor with the modern economy — to help people find jobs and other opportunities — instead devolved into a government-enabled boondoggle riddled with fraud, according to a review of the so-called “Obamaphone” program.

The Government Accountability Office reports that more than a third of the 10.6 million enrollees in the Lifeline Program may not have been qualified to receive phones. Thousands of people doubled-dipped the program for two phones, while 6,400 phones went to dead people.

More disturbing still is that the program “stashed” $9 billion in assets in private bank accounts rather than with the federal Treasury, according to the report.

In effect, “everything that could go wrong is going wrong,” according to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

Although the Federal Communications Commission's program actually predates the Obama administration, it was the latter that championed the “free” phones. Costs to cellphone carriers are being passed along to customers “through the universal service fee that many see on their monthly bills,” The Washington Times reports.

Chalk up another government “solution” in search of a problem, as GAO investigators found many free-phone recipients are able to pay for cellphone services. The only question remaining is how much longer will the fraud continue before the feds disconnect those Obamaphones.

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