When Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas started getting letters from constituents saying that their deceased relatives were receiving cell phones from the government, he realized something had gone awry.
As it turns out, an outdated government-backed aid program designed to provide the poor with cell phones has been sending out phones to underage residents, multiple phones to one person, and, yes, even phones to the deceased.
To fix this problem, Griffin has introduced a bill to Congress that would scale back the cell phone program by providing only landline services to low-income citizens.
“This program demands reform,” Griffin told FoxNews.com on Monday. “There is a lot of waste in it and we need to be asking ourselves, ‘Where do we draw the line? Do we give everybody an iPad next? A computer? Is that the role the federal government should be playing?’”
The original program, called the Lifeline program, began in 1985 in order to provide the poor with the ability to call for emergency services, help with job searches and keep in contact with family. It has a ton of bipartisan support and will not disappear completely, but Griffin does believe it needs to be amended in order to save taxpayer dollars.
The cost of the program has tripled since 2008, growing from $819 million to $2.2 billion in 2012. Abuse of the program is also common, as is illustrated by a recent study by the Federal Communications Commission. The study revealed that 41 percent of the 6 million Lifeline subscribers did not actually meet the requirements needed to get a phone.
Though Griffin is proposing a bill to simply amend the program, he actually believes that taxpayers should not be responsible for this it at all.
“I understand the FCC is trying to rein the abuse and my first question is, ‘What took you so long?'" he said. “I hear people saying we need this and we need that as a society but is it really fair for the government – i.e. the taxpayers – to provide people with cell phones? I don’t think so.”
Source: Fox News