April 8th, 2013

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The Delightful Ironies of the "Obama Phone"

If conservatives had the brains God gave a dodo, they would embrace the expansion of Lifeline to wireless prepaid plans as one of the most successful conservative anti-poverty plans designed in the last 15 years.

More than you ever wanted to know about "Obama phone" in my latest blog post "10 Ironies About The Obama Phone"

For those not willing to look through with links they are:
1. It was the Reagan FCC that came up with the plan to tax rich people using the phone to pay for poor and rural people to have affordable phone service.

2. If you are in rural America, you are subsidized out of the same pot as "Obama phone." In fact, if we ended the subsidy, you would not have phone service at all. So shut your subsidized pie-hole Tea Party Takers, because every time you call your member of Congress to complain about this, you are on my dime.

3. The FCC used ancillary authority for this and the DC Circuit affirmed.

4. The Republican Congress in 1996 not only confirmed what the FCC had done, it expanded it.

5. Tracfone, which supposedly got the "Obama phone" because the CEO is a major Obama donor, was approved to offer the subsidized, no-cost pre-paid service by the Bush Administration.

6. The Republican Commissioners explicitly expanded the program to encourage enrollment by the poor. This has arguably been one of the most succesful anti-poverty programs developed in the Bush Administration.

7. Republicans authorized the first pre-paid plan in response to Katrina. They diverted an emergency $200 million from Lifeline so that providers could distribute free phones with 300 minutes on them to Katrina victims.

8. Lifeline is revenue neutral, because it passes from your phone bill to the USF fund. Eliminating "Obama phone" has no impact on the deficit. It won't even reduce your phone bill.

9. Killing wireless eligibility for Lifeline would have serious negative impact on rural wireless generally by reducing already thin profit margins to non-existence. The biggest losers would be AT&T and Sprint, which not only have Lifeline pre-paid options, but make money as wholesalers of spectrum to resellers like Tracfone.

10. If Republicans had any brains, they would embrace Lifeline as proof they are the party of tech-savvy ideas for improving the lives of the working class. Instead, a bunch of cranky racist lemmings are taking the GOP over the cliff, again.