Last year we taxpayers forked out $1.6 billion to subsidize free cellphones and the monthly payments of 12.5 million wireless accounts, which are intended for the so-called “poor.” Due to lax requirements, participation in the program is rising: In 2008, the government paid $772 million for phones and monthly bills; last year, that number more than doubled.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has been taking a closer look at the program since she personally received an invitation to apply for a free, government-subsidized cell phone in the mail. McCaskill has asked the FCC to investigate Lifeline. As a result, the FCC is building a database to see if a subscriber has more than one subsidized phone. In other words, until recently, such a database didn’t exist.
What’s next, free BMWs for those making under $250,000 a year?