Congressional Republicans want to rein in a $2.2 billion U.S. mobile-phone subsidy for the poor, saying it’s riddled with fraud and benefits the world’s richest man, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
|Richest Man in the World Carlos Slim|
Slim’s TracFone Wireless Inc. received about a quarter of the funds from the U.S. government’s Lifeline program, according to the latest figures. ...
Billionaire Carlos Slim owns Mexico’s biggest phone company America Movil SAB, which offers mobile service in 17 Latin American countries and the U.S.“...
Slim owns Mexico’s biggest phone company, America Movil SAB (AMXL), which offers mobile service in 17 Latin American countries and the U.S. Its TracFone unit is the largest recipient under the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s Lifeline program, taking in $451.7 million, or 28 percent, of payments in 2011, the last year for which records are available.
The Lifeline program subsidizes monthly service, and carriers give away phones. Recipients generally can’t earn more than 135 percent of the federal poverty line, which in most states is $23,550 for a family of four.
The program has seen “explosive growth,” said Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, at the hearing. “It’s why so many of our constituents are questioning the program and are questioning the use of the ’Obama phones’ as they are commonly called.”
Started in 1985, Lifeline pays companies $9.25 per customer per month. It disbursed $772 million in 2008 and $2.2 billion last year, according to the Universal Service Administrative Co., a Washington-based nonprofit that oversees the subsidies.
TracFone is the largest prepaid wireless company in the U.S., with 23.2 million customers at the end of March and $4.8 billion in revenue last year. Lifeline accounts for about 3.6 million of those customers, Fuentes said.
And tracfone is easily the most expensive cellphone service plan there is, in terms of airtime charges..
"Since 1985, the Lifeline program has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers...." (fcc.gov/lifeline)
I fail to see why it's called Obamaphone, and I fail to see why you're surprised that "the world's richest man" is profiting, albeit indirectly. How do you think Carlos Slim got to be the richest man if not by making profits where he can?
Why isn't it called "Reaganphone" since it was started during his presidency?
It's called an Obamaphone because of stupid Obama voters who go on TV and proclaim 'Obama gonna give me a free phone!'
The program ought to be limited to ONLY a subsidized landline in extreme cases where the recipient is far from emergency responders. And I don't really think that is something the government should be mandating, either.
I think the program was expanded under Obama. But it was started during the Reagan presidency...not that he championed it.
DI is exactly right as far as why they are called ObamaPhones.
I just find it ironic that the richest man in the world makes money off a program to help off the poor. Reminds me of how Ross Perot made his money.
DI: How do you know that it's "stupid Obama voters" who proclaim "Obama gonna give me a free phone"?
Do you know these people personally? Were you with them in the voting booth to verify how they voted?
Seems to me they could be (shudder) paid actors reading a script....
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