SEPTEMBER 04, 2013
A fraud-infested government program that gives low-income populations free cell phones should expand in Hispanic communities because it will help bolster employment rates, according to a powerful Latino rights group working to save the program as Congress considers killing it.
The controversial cell phone giveaway, known as Lifeline Assistance, has grown immensely under President Obama and in fact has become known as “Obama Phones.” It went from costing American taxpayers $819 million in 2008 to $2.2 billion in 2012, according to figures provided to an Idaho newspaper by one of its U.S. Senators.
The money is collected nationwide from paying telephone customers and redistributed in the form of subsidies. Like all bloated government giveaways, this one has gotten out of control and is rife with fraud and abuse. Now lawmakers are scrutinizing it and some are using their legislative power to pull the plug, or at least cut the Obama Phone craze.
There are three bills pending in Congress that seek to nix the Lifeline program. The threat has created a big frenzy among leftist groups that claim the free government cell phones are crucial to the livelihood of many poor communities. Some powerful organizations have taken it a step further, actually pushing to expand Lifeline by asserting that it’s essential to survival.
For instance the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights group, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), says that millions of Hispanic households in the U.S. depend on the wireless lifeline phones for work, health and safety. Killing or restricting the program, which LULAC itself refers to as “Obamaphone,” would hurt some 7 million Hispanics, the group says.
LULAC’s executive director, Brent Wilkes, actually claimed in a recent news conference that Lifeline services could help create jobs for Hispanics, which he says are “under-enrolled” in the federal program. “Whether the focus is jobs, health or public safety, wireless Lifeline is critical to millions of low income Hispanics,” Wilkes says. Maintaining a sustainable wireless Lifeline program will allow pool Latinos to “better their lives,” he added.
To back up these claims, LULAC cites a preposterous study that says a wireless phone can play a key role in getting a job. The academic who conducted the study says in a LULAC press release that the free government phones are an important economic tool and a real key to jobs and incomes for poor Americans.
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