July 1, 2017

The federal program to supply free or discount phone service to the poor has been around since the ‘80s, but enrollment took off so much in recent years, free government cell phones became known as “Obamaphones.” Now, a new report by the Government Accountability Office suggests that another good nickname for those cell phones might be “Fraudphones.” They're certainly not "Smartphones."

The investigation begun in 2014 after Rep. Claire McCaskill got a piece of junk mail urging her to apply for a free government cell phone (I assume she already gets one.) The GAO found that between 36 and 63% of applicants’ forms included easily-detectable lies that should have made them ineligible. But those bogus applications were approved 63% of the time. Overall, only about a third of applicants could even be confirmed as eligible, meaning two-thirds of those getting a free cell phone at taxpayer expense might not even be poor. The GAO also found more than 5500 people enrolled for more than one free phone and about 6400 phones given out under the names of people who were dead. Although to be fair, if you were buried under six feet of dirt, you’d want to have a cell phone handy

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Rep. McCaskill said everything that could go wrong with the program did, and we’re letting cell phone companies cash a giant check from US taxpayers every month on the honor system. I applaud her for caring about this, but as a Democrat, her natural inclination is to blame the corporations and let the government and the entitlement cheats off the hook.

Let’s be honest: cell phone companies don't deserve all the blame. Anytime Washington creates a new entitlement program, there will be people who think they’re entitled to get something free at other people’s expense, because that’s exactly what the government is telling them. When Washington “redistributes” other people’s money and doesn’t police eligibility, there will always be fraud and abuse. That’s just as much the fault of the government as it is of the people who exploit it.

Can you hear me now?



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  • Natalie Mulligan

    07/02/2017 09:14 AM

    Mr. Huckabee-
    Respectfully, I enjoyed your article because regardless of which political party "discovers" an indiscrepancy in a government program waste of American tax payer dollars should be brought to light. I was disappointed however with the chide parenthetical comment indicating that the Representative already had an Obamaphone. Now as a member of Congress if you were to imply that her phone that she uses to conduct government business is supplied and paid for by the tax payers including correct encryption and email servers, well that is surely one thing.
    However, that is not what was implied and that was the one sentence that ruined the whole article. Please please, try your best to bring the manners in Washington as opposed to getting in the swamp and slinging the mud to "drain" it
    Natalie Mulligan
    Registered Republican
    Saratoga County NY