It's an entitlement program gone mad and is rife with fraud, senator says
Senator David Vitter has attached an amendment to the Farm Bill that could be voted on this week to end the subsidy for mobile phone service in the so-called "Lifeline Program".
Vitter told Fox 8 News the subsidy is "an entitlement program gone mad" and is "absolutely rife with fraud".
"And as proof of that, a friend of mine went out and got this free cell phone yesterday, took him about 10 minutes. He didn't have to show any significant documentation," Vitter explained.
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 providers.
Vitter says the program, which grew from $143 million in 2008 to nearly $2 billion in 2012, is being "milked" by corporations that are setting up tents and temporary storefronts and are literally handing out phones.
"They're handing them out because they know every time they do, they're gonna basically get $9.25 a month. So they have absolutely no incentive to check eligibility," Vitter said.