FCC steps up enforcement of income checks for ‘Obamaphone’ recipients

Barack Obama phoneThe truth prevails in the case of wasteful entitlement spending on ‘Obamaphones,’ as the Federal Communications Commission is now stepping up its enforcement of an income eligibility check before giving out federally subsidized cellphones.

The FCC announced the new enforcement policies for its “Lifeline” program in a notice sent out late last month. To be eligible for participation in the Lifeline program, a person cannot earn more than 135 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $31,700 annually for a family of four.

“[Companies] must verify the eligibility of a low-income consumer prior to providing Lifeline service to that consumer, and may not provide an activated device intended to enable access to Lifeline service to a consumer until that consumer’s eligibility is fully verified and all other necessary enrollment steps are completed,” the notice reads.

The FCC ‘s statement also comes several weeks after a video by Project Veritas exposing the program’s lack enforcement was released; the FCC, according to The Hill, denies that there was a connection between the two.

“We want to make sure providers are following our new rules and we are continuing to look for ways to improve the program and reduce waste and abuse,” a FCC official told The Hill.

In the Project Veritas video, conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe launched an undercover investigation into the Lifeline service, ultimately revealing that Lifeline workers were not performing any kind of income eligibility check to determine if the applicant had a legitimate need for the federally subsidized phone. The video also showed an undercover investigator in Philadelphia asking employees if he could sell the phone to buy drugs, to which the worker didn’t object.

Although the Lifeline program started covering cellphones under President George W. Bush in 2005, federal spending for the program has increased in size significantly under the Obama administration, growing from $819 million in 2008 to $2.2 billion in 2012.


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