Here’s what the FCC did in 2012:
- Required verification of income eligibility.
- Started the process of verification of the rule allowing only one subsidy per household.
- Eliminated an incentive for phone companies to sign people up.
- Required providers to verify the continued eligibility of their subscribers on an annual basis.
It is hard to believe we ever created a welfare program that allowed self-determination for qualification and then incentivized a third party to sign people up. Is it any wonder 41% have been disqualified to date? But don’t worry – the FCC is now creating a database to manage the program and establishing new compliance rules. Here we go again. Already seven agencies run user databases for welfare - HUD, HHS, IRS, Social Security, Dept. of Agriculture, Education and Labor. Lifeline qualification is slightly different than the other programs, which is how the FCC justifies its own database. So in the end we are creating a massive new bureaucracy to monitor a $9.25 monthly benefit for phone service. We could just increase SNAP $9.25 a month, have people buy their own phone if they so desire and save millions. This is a case study in how government wins and the rest of us loose.
Here is what the FCC has to say about the situation:
“Since 1985, the Lifeline program has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family, and emergency services. But waste, fraud, and abuse in the program were threatening its future, and the program currently provides no support for broadband, which is critical to jobs, education, and opportunity in the 21St Century.”
In short – 1) people need phones 2) we’ve addressed the fraud 3) let’s add broadband. It is our modern welfare program template:
- Overly complicated “In-kind” benefit to the poor that makes very little difference in the end.
- More fodder for the cheaters who work the program like a fiddle.
- More jobs in Washington.
What a system.