Paul also wrongly suggested that the Obama administration instituted a program to give free cell phones to the poor.
“The president offers you free stuff but his policies keep you poor,” Paul said. He later commented that “for those who are struggling, we want you to have something infinitely more valuable than a free phone, we want you to have a job and a pathway to success.”
While it’s true that the government provides subsidized phone service for low-income persons, such programs were in existence before Obama came into office.
Aswe wrote most recentlyin May 2012, Lifeline, a federally mandated program that reimburses phone companies with a monthly subsidy of $9.25 for each low-income customer, has been around since 1984, when it began providing landline service to customers. Funded by telecom fees that are part of customers’ monthly phone bills, the program is designed to fulfill FCC policy of providing universal access. The program was thenexpandedduring the George W. Bush administration in 2008 to cover cell phone usage.
And aswe originally wrote in 2009— debunking false Internet claims of an “Obama phone” — TracFone Wireless also started itsSafeLink Wirelessprogram, which offers up to 250 free minutes of cell phone use each month, in 2008.
These and similar programs areactually a product ofthe 1996 Telecommunications Act to “ensure all Americans, including low-income consumers and those who live in rural, insular, high cost areas, shall have affordable service and [to] help to connect eligible schools, libraries, and rural health care providers to the global telecommunications network.”