Report shows government waste in Lifeline program - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Report shows government waste in Lifeline program

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The Lifeline program, has been around since 1984, and provides cell phones with a limited amount of free minutes. The idea behind the program is to help low-income Americans maintain communication with employers and have a phone for emergencies.

Lifeline is coming under attack after a recent discovery by the Wall Street Journal, which found that up to 41 percent of the 6 million participants, could not or did not prove they were eligible to receive government provided phones.

"You can't regulate it," said Republican strategist, Dan Neil. He says it's just another form of government waste.

"You give someone a phone and say here I trust you to use this phone only to help yourself get a job. Really? We're going to regulate that? How are we going to make sure they're doing that? How are we going to make sure that they deserve a phone? You can't. It's a waste of money."

However, not everyone believes the percentage of people abusing the program is as high as 41 percent.

"It's an insanely inflated number because a lot of people didn't respond to the survey," said Democratic strategist, Jason Stanford.

The article by WSJ says that some of those on the program couldn't demonstrate eligibility because they never provided information when requested. Stanford said the low-income participants may have felt intimidated.

"Poor people getting called? You know what that means? Bill collectors," said Stanford.

Stanford says the Lifeline program, which started under President Ronald Reagan, has helped millions.

"I think it's a necessary program. It's one of those good programs that's really hard to explain and sounds awful, but the last thing we need is a bunch of poor people in America cut off from all of the services we're trying to provide them," said Stanford.

"We haven't cut our spending, we've increased our spending with programs like these and until we cut our spending we're going to be in a lot of trouble," said Neil.

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