Today criminals are being provided free phones to conduct their crimes. Who is giving them free phones? You are when you pay your phone bill each month.
In 1986, under President Ronald Reagan, Congress created the Universal Service Administration Corporation (USAC) to update the Communications Act of 1934. Today the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) administers USACand with it the Universal Service Fund (USF) created in 1997 to “modernize” the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The Universal Service Fund (USF) requires telecommunication users to pay a fee each month, a fee that varies from year to year. This fee pays for a service entitled “Lifeline” that provides free phones to poor people. When bill-paying phone users finally caught on, they began to criticize USF as just another tax. Welfare advocates insist it is a fee.
Fee or tax, bill-paying phone users, with landline phones or cellphones, are paying for free phones handed out to those who qualify for social/welfare benefits — allegedly the low-income or disabled. USF states that Lifeline phones are meant for job seeking, security/911, and family needs.
To be eligible for the free phones, an individual or family must be a participant in one or more of the following programs: Medicaid, food stamps (EBT), Supplemental Social Insurance (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8), Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), National School Lunch Program, or other social and welfare programs.
Legal and illegal immigrants who avail themselves of these programs thus have access to free phones.
USF cell phones come with 250 free minutes per month. These minutes may be used for texting and long distance, including international calls. Welfare advocates insist that “the poor” be given the latest phone technology regardless of cost.
In September 2013, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray proclaimed the second week in September as “District of Columbia Lifeline Awareness Week.” The mayor wants free phones — cellphones and land phones — for all D.C. residents, leaving phone bill payers to foot the bill.
Free phones are now part of the federal entitlement programs that include illegal aliens among their recipients. A Los Angeles County official recently announced that $650 million in welfare entitlements were given to illegal aliens thus far in 2013, and this did not include free phones.
Taxpayers are finally complaining about the flagrant abuses and phone-related crimes being committed by free-phone recipients. On January 31, 2012, the Democrat-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally made some vague changes to stop fraud and abuse by free-phone recipients. Little has changed, however, except for an up-grade of free phones.
The cost of free phones has yet to be certified by an outside accounting firm. Daily stories of abuse continue, and USAC regularly makes excuses or ignores the problems. President Barack Obama supports the free phones, now known as "Obama phones."
Who supplies the free phones? One major supplier is a major Obama donor, and the company is affiliated with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. The immigration bill, recently passed in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, would provide free phones to “legalization” applicants.
The Internet companies that offer free phones battle to offer the easiest application requirements. One company, calling itself "The Obama Phone-Government Benefit Program," offers advice on how to qualify for free government phones. In small print at the end of the advertisement is a disclaimer that Obama phone is not affiliated with the U.S. Government or the U.S. president or state governments. Another company in bold print declares: “GET MY FREE PHONE NOW.”
The free cellphones have Internet capacity, and as phone technology develops, free-phone users benefit, as phone companies offer free-phone recipients only the latest updated models.
Hundreds of thousands of recipients have more than one phone, and many sell their extra phones, often to support a drug or other vice habit, thus re-distributing the wealth.
Drug dealers and other criminals either apply for Obama phones with false names or buy phones from USF recipients. Criminals are savvy enough to only use their free phones for brief periods, making detection difficult for law enforcement officials.
As one gang member said, “After heavy workout, phone is too hot, and we dump it. It keeps the cops guessing.” One entitlement advocate was quoted as suggesting that free-phone critics are racists — that critics are “the white tea party types.”
Back in 2011, KMOV of St. Louis, Mo., conducted an investigation of free-phone users and found that criminals were using the phones to monitor police radio traffic. Missouri resident and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., was solicited to receive an Obama phone. She refused the offer.
So, when does a fee become a tax? It becomes a tax when Universal Service Fund payments for manufacture and distribution of Obama phones just for this year will cost the bill-paying, phone-using public $2.2 billion. Read your phone bill.
James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.
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