Probably you’ve heard this joke but we still thought it was worth sharing; especially right before the election.
In Case you never heard about this so called Obama Phone, here’s the major run down from of course Obama Phone.com. smdh
- There is no such thing as an Obama Phone – The program is called Lifelink;
- The Lifelink Phone subsidy program began under the Clinton Administration
- The program is funded by the Universal Service Fund (USF) which is administered by the Federal Communication Commission. The USF along with the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), pays for the Lifelink phone assistance program
This is from the page created to dispel the myths surrounding this federal communications commission program.
What exactly is the free Obama phone? The free Obama phone is a program that is meant to help the financially unstable who cannot afford access to a cell phone. Communication should not be limited to people in relation to what they are able to afford. The Lifeline program was actually created decades ago to help low income families have access to land lines. Over the years the cost of cell phones and cellular service has decreased and the program has been extended to cover cell phones.
During the Bush administration, there was the introduction of a project that gave subsidies to those who could not afford a phone. The basic principle of the program is that everyone should have access to emergency services like 911. There are a number of deaths that take place every year do to lack of proper communication, and access to emergency services should be a right for everyone.
The free Obama phone is an important program, especially for low income families that would otherwise not have access to basic communications. There are different plans to choose from. Some plans offer fewer minutes and more texting and some even include rollover minutes. Make sure you check out all the plans before choosing the one that is right for you.
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What is the Obama Phone?
The term “the Obama Phone” has been all around since the day Barack Obama became the president of the United States of America. Many people think that Obama is giving free cellphones to the poor in order to redistribute the wealth of rich people. Since then two groups are mudslinging at each other.
It’s true that government provides free cellphones to the poor and disabled people. But the Obama part is not true as Obama didn’t initiate this program. It’s on the run since the administration of Reagan. This program has two parts: one is called the ‘Link-Up’ which provided free landline connection to the poor and the other is called the ‘Lifeline’ which provides waiver on telephone bills. These two programs are simply called ‘Lifeline’ when lumped together.
This service is provided by government approved companies. The three major companies are Safelink Wireless, Assurance Wireless and ReachOut Wireless.
Today government provides waivers on landline phone bills for people with low-income living inside US territory. This program began during Clinton’s administration and still continuing under Obamas’ administration.
With the increasing use of mobile technologies cost came down. To low-income individuals and senior citizens, cellphones were included under Lifeline. At present, government gives free cellphone with 250 minutes of free talk time to those people who are eligible and have signed up for this program. It started back in 2008 when Trafcone started their service under this program at Tennessee. At the same year Obama was elected President but Trafcone began their Safelink service three months before which means the program was discussed and approved by Obama’s predecessor Bush. So now you know that there is nothing called “the Obama Phone”.
Over 8 million people have already signed up for the Lifeline program and up to 35% of Americans are qualified.
Who Pays for the Obama Phone?
Lifeline is a government sponsored program, but who is paying for it. Some people claim that the government is using taxpayer’s money to run this program, however, the claim is false. Universal Service Fund (USF) which is administers by Federal Communication Commission along the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), pays for the Lifeline phone assistance program.
Is the Obama Phone Real?
The State and Federal government has a program that provides free cellphones and free talk time to people with low income as well as senior citizens. This subsidized program is called Lifeline phones assistance program. But Obama hasn’t initiated it; it started few decades back and got its current format after going through several changes within this time. Safelink Wireless, the largest cellphone provider of the Lifeline program and a subsidiary of Tracfone, was created under the administration of George William Bush which received grants from a company that was launched during the Bill Clinton’s time and it was done because of an act passed by President Franklin Roosevelt which in turn was influenced because of an agreement between President Woodrow Wilson’s administration and some telecom service providers. So you can realize that this free cellphone service has a pretty long history and the claim about the Obama phone is nothing but a false rumor.
At present, free cellphone with 250 free minutes is provided to financially disabled people. It has been included during Bush’s administration. Several telecom companies have been approved to provide cellphones to the qualified people living in the United States and within US territory. This service is not for everyone. You need to fulfill certain requirements to avail this facility provided by the government. These requirements are almost same in all the states as it has been set by the government.
Currently, the government is thinking of providing free wireless internet service to the people under this program instead of old-fashioned land phones. It’ll be a great effort if government includes this service in Lifeline program.
The Universal Service Fund (USF) was created back in 1997 by Federal Communication Commission in order to achieve the goals set by the Congress under the Telecommunication Act of 1996. According to the Act, telecommunication service providers are obliged to contribute a portion of their interstate and international telecommunications revenues. These companies include paging service providers, wireless telephone companies, wire-line telephone companies, and Voice over Internet Protocol service providers. Some of the paying customers might find a line item named ‘Universal Service’ on their telephone bills. This is because some telecom companies choose to collect the amount they need to contribute to Universal Service Fund, from their subscribers. Federal Communication Commissions doesn’t require this charge to be passed to the customers. The telecom company decides how they will manage their USF contribution costs. But they can’t charge an amount that is more than they need to contribute to the USF. These charges appear as a percentage of the original phone bill. They also can’t collect any charges from the Lifeline customers. The percentage of contribution of the telecom companies is renewed every quarter depending on the demand of the Universal Service Fund.
The word ‘universal’ means that telecom service providers should offer uninterrupted telecommunication service to all those people who can’t afford it. It also includes libraries, schools, healthcare providers, and classrooms.
The Universal Service Fund (USF) is the source of money on which the Lifeline phone assistance program runs. Click here to learn what is the “Obama Phone”. You can also see if you are qualified to receive a free government cell phone. Click here to see if you qualify.
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This program has been a literal Lifeline for many people who have needed uninterrupted communication for their home or personal use. Today many food stamp and social security recipients have telephone service; because of this program. The reason we are bringing this to your attention today is so that if you qualify – you should get yourself a cellphone. It’s a matter of personal security today. This can be your way to get help or to stay in contact when you lack the resources. Please share this post with others who you may know that need a guaranteed communications device. They’ll surely thank you for it.
Our Friends at ThinkProgress.org spent a bit of time on this same bit of shade recently. their piece really points out just how the Tea Party is using racial polarization to attempt to push this cellphone program as another Obama Hand Out. The truth is that this program benefits everyone across the board – including Libraries, Schools and Organizations where communication is necessary but the budget may not have the space to accommodate it. We found this tea-party Mash Up aimed to discredit President Obama again with the same lady – look at this and then ask yourself why the tea-party is busy trying this type of nonsense in this day and age – where the proof of the pudding is sitting right beside this mess on YouTube.
By Ian Millhiser on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Late last month, conservative media lit up with a video of an African-American woman excitedly praising President Barack Obama because he supposedly gave racial minorities in Cleveland free telephones. The video received prominent placement on the pro-Romney Drudge Report and spawned a popular #Obamaphone hashtag on Twitter. Although there is indeed a federal program which provides low-income people with free or reduced-cost cell phones, it began in 2008 under President George W. Bush. The idea of providing subsidized phone service to low-income individuals originated with a program started under President Ronald Reagan.
Now, the “Obamaphone” woman is the star of an ad sponsored by the Tea Party Victory Fund suggesting President Obama’s policies have “enslaved Americans“:
It’s difficult to view this ad as anything other that an appeal to the visceral reaction its very enthusiastic star is likely to inspire in a certain kind of voter. The ad will run in three Ohio counties — Lucas, Summit, and Mahoning — all of which are predominantly white.
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The Forbes Magazine Reporters actually started the Viral Video when they recorded this lady at a rally in Cleveland in September 2012. She was talking about the Obama Phone and why she thinks everyone should get one. this is the original video from that interview which is below :
In the video, an alleged Obama supporter screams about her “Obama phone” at a rally in Ohio. She tells a reporter, “Keep Obama in president, you know! He gave us a phone, he’s gonna do more.”
The video made news this week as taxpayers grow increasingly uncomfortable with the so-called “47%” – those folks who supposedly rely on the government for entitlements. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney described those folks as:
[D]ependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it
She went on to shriek, “Everybody in Cleveland, low minorities, got Obama phones…”
It was a great sound byte. But it’s deeply flawed. The “Obama phone” program she’s touting doesn’t give out free phones to minorities. And it wasn’t started by President Obama. And this rumor isn’t new.
As I reported months ago, there is a law in place to help low-income customers have access to basic telephone service. It’s divided into two programs: Link-Up America and Lifeline.
Link-Up assists consumers with the installation costs of phone service. The program pays up to $30 of the cost of installation and up to $200 in the form of a one year, interest-free loan for additional installation costs.
Lifeline provides discounts on basic monthly service at a primary residence for qualified telephone customers. These discounts can be up to $10.00 per month, or more for certain Native Americans. Generally, to qualify, your income must be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines (these vary by location and size of family but for comparison, rings in at $22,350 for a family of four in the lower 48).
In some instances, coverage may include discounts for cell phone service instead of land lines at primary residences because realistically, cell phone service is less expensive in some areas than traditional service. Eligibility and type of program may vary from state to state – and this is why there is a flurry of confusion about the program being a product of the Obama administration. In Florida, for example, cell phone service was added to the existing program – in 2008, the year that Obama was elected to office. The conclusion from many folks was that it was a new federal program. It was not. It was an expansion of the existing program and implemented on a state by state basis.
The federal program wasn’t started by President Obama. It dates back to 1996, as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The Act did a number of things, including increasing internet access to doctors and patients in rural hospitals (for consults with specialists); subsidizing internet and phone coverage for schools and libraries and providing free or subsidized coverage for families who can’t afford it so that they have links to emergency and government services. The Act was not taxpayer funded… exactly. Taxpayers do pay for coverage but not via federal income taxes. Instead, the Act “mandated the creation of the universal service fund (USF) into which all telecommunications providers are required to contribute a percentage of their interstate and international end-user telecommunications revenues.” So that little fee on your phone bill labeled USF? That’s what you’re paying for.
As you can imagine, not every one supports this idea. And yes, there has been abuse – you can read about efforts to curb abuse here (downloads as a pdf).
As a result, there is a bill in place to put an end to the practice. The bill, H.R. 3481, the Stop Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act of 2011, was introduced by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) with three co-sponsors, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA), Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) on November 18, 2011. The bill now has 11 more co-sponsors, four of which joined this month. And since I know you’re wondering: none of the co-sponsors are from Cleveland – or from Ohio. All of them are Republican.
The purpose of the bill, as stated is: “To prohibit universal service support of commercial mobile service through the Lifeline program.”
The bill now sits in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce where it was referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology last year. I predicted earlier this year that it would sit awhile and viral video or no, I suspect it will continue to sit. It provides for fun election banter but realistically, with Congress on recess, nothing is happening any time soon on any legislation, especially one as politically charged as this. In fact, Govtrack.us, which researches and follows legislation in Congress and the state legislatures, gives the bill a mere 2% chance of being made law.
The bottom line is that there is free phone assistance available to those who qualify but it is not an Obama administration program. Taxpayers do support the program but not through federal income taxes. And despite the screaming lady in the video, eligibility doesn’t hinge on Social Security, disability or food stamps; there’s no “buy one bag of chips, get an Obama phone free” promotion. Just because a woman holding a sign gets a microphone in her face doesn’t make her statements true.
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This is Just another way to help Keep America Talking about the State of The Union