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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Program ringing up massive fraud, abuse

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are you aware that every time you pay your cell phone bill you pay an added fee to provide free cell phones to the needy? Are you aware that this federal program has no one monitoring and, as a result, fraud and abuse are sky high?

Well, both statements are absolutely true.

The government-funded Lifeline program is yet another example of well-intentioned government programs that fail to deliver on their purposes. And at the same time, fraud siphons billions (with a B) of dollars from working Americans.

Politicians never cease to amaze me. This program - like so many others - gives us a glimpse of the dysfunctional nature of the federal government. The plan seems to be to start a program that sounds good, make sure the program is paid for by the taxpayers and then, provide no follow-up to see if the program actually works.

The purpose of the Lifeline program was to assure that the low-income would have cell phones for emergencies. Well, as you can imagine, the phones - since they are free - are just another example of taking money from producers to provide for non-producers.

But you knew that already.

Sen. Claire McCaskill jumped into the fraud issue this week when alerted to the program's shortcomings by the media. To her credit, she has asked the Federal Communications Commission to monitor the program to assure that the low-income are limited to one phone. She has also called for audits of the program and an established budget.

But McCaskill drifts off target when she says that the suppliers of the phones - who are paid for the number of phones they distribute - are the culprits. She ignores the fraud of the consumers who take advantage of yet another free program.

To put things into some perspective, this one single small federal program spends literally billions of dollars and I'll bet that most of you were not even aware this program existed.

McCaskill's proposed changes, she says, will save around $2 billion over the next several years on this program alone.

As we all know, a billion here, a billion there - before long you're talking about real money!

Credit to the media for uncovering this fiasco.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen