Georgia’s anti-’Obamaphone’ rule just hurts poor people

18
Oct

Georgia’s anti-’Obamaphone’ rule just hurts poor people

The controversy over what critics have derisively called the “Obamaphone” program is back.

In an attempt to take on fraudulent subscribers in the nation’s Lifeline program — a service dating to the Reagan administration that gives poor people access to government-subsidized phone lines — Georgia plans to start charging low-income Americans $5 a month for the privilege of getting what residents of other states get for free.

The new rule could wind up punishing more poor people than criminals.

Georgia’s state public services commissioner, Doug Everett, justifies the rule by saying that there are more free phones floating about in his state than there are people who are eligible for the Lifeline program. According to his estimates, there were at one point roughly a million Lifeline phones active in Georgia, representing more than one phone per qualifying American.

“A hundred and twenty-five percent of the total number of poor people had Lifeline phones,” Everett told me in an interview. Later, he suggested that up to 50 percent of phones distributed under the program may have been fraudulent.

via Georgia’s anti-’Obamaphone’ rule just hurts poor people.

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