Outrageous! The Government Is Giving Out Free Cell Phones And Free Cell Phone Minutes To Welfare Recipients

Did you know that the federal government is giving out free cell phones and free cell phone minutes to welfare recipients?  It may be hard to believe, but it is true.  Right now, there are companies that are running advertisements specifically targeted at low income Americans informing them of the fact that all they have to do is sign up and they can get a free cell phone and hundreds of free cell phone minutes every single month and it will all be paid for by the federal government.  Some have referred to this as “The Obama Phone”, but that is not exactly accurate.  The outrageous federal programs that are paying for this were initiated before Barack Obama entered the White House.  But the fact that welfare recipients have been receiving free cell phones and free cell phone minutes under both the Bush and Obama administrations has been confirmed as being true by Snopes.  All of this is paid for by “the federal Universal Service Fund”.  That is one of those annoying little taxes that you may have noticed on your phone bill.  So what is essentially happening is the federal government is taking money from all of us so that they can provide free cell phone service for welfare recipients every single month.

When some of my readers informed me of this free cell phone scheme, I decided that I better go to the source.  So I went over to the FCC website, and it turns out that there are two federal programs involved.  “Link Up” provides a one-time connection discount on phone service, and it can be applied to the cost of a cell phone.  So this is where the free cell phone comes from.  “Lifeline” provides a monthly discount on telephone service.  So this is where the free cell phone minutes each month come from.  The following is a description of these programs from the FCC website….

What Benefits are Available Under the Lifeline and Link Up Programs?

  • Lifeline provides discounts on one basic monthly telephone service (wireline or wireless) for qualified subscribers. These discounts can be up to $10.00 per month, depending on your state. Federal rules prohibit qualifying low-income consumers from receiving more than ONE Lifeline service at the same time. That is, qualifying low-income consumers may receive a Lifeline discount on either a home telephone or wireless telephone service, but may not receive a Lifeline discount on both services at the same time. Lifeline also includes Toll Limitation Service, which enables a telephone subscriber to limit the amount of long distance calls that can be made from a telephone.
  • Link Up Up provides qualified subscribers with a one-time discount (up to a maximum of $30) off of the initial installation fee for one traditional, wireline telephone service at the primary residence or the activation fee for one wireless telephone. It also allows subscribers to pay the remaining amount they owe on a deferred schedule, interest-free. Federal rules prohibit qualifying low-income consumers from receiving more than ONE Link Up discount at a primary residence. That is, qualifying low-income consumers may receive a Link Up discount on installation or activation charges associated with either a home telephone or wireless telephone service.

Apparently these programs are becoming quite popular.

You can find a company called Safelink Wireless offering welfare recipients a free cell phone and 250 free cell phone minutes a month right here.

You can find a company called Assurance Wireless offering welfare recipients a program that is virtually identical right here.

This is absolutely outrageous, and it is yet another sign that dependence on the government is totally out of control.

Not that assisting the poor is bad.  Of course we always want to help those that cannot help themselves.  We never want to see anyone go without daily food or sleep in the streets.

But providing the poor with the basics of life is much different from providing them with luxuries such as cell phones.

In some areas of the country, the poor can also receive nearly free Internet service every single month.

Just check out the following example from the Houston Chronicle….

When Comcast acquired NBC Universal earlier this year, an FCC-mandated requirement was that the cable giant offer cheap Internet access to low-income households. Comcast is making good on the mandate through a new program called Internet Essentials.

Families who qualify will be able to sign up for 1.5-Mbps Internet access – the same download speed as AT&T’s basic DSL service – for just $9.95 a month. Customers may also be eligible for a computer that costs just $150 and free Internet training.

Also, a new bill has been introduced in Congress that would give “eligible” households money to help pay for gasoline….

Low-Income Gasoline Assistance Program Act – Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to states to establish emergency assistance programs to pay eligible households for the purchase of gasoline.

These days, as long as you are “eligible”, just about everything you need will either be purchased for you or subsidized by the federal government.

Yes, we will always need programs to help take care of the poor, but some of the things that go on today are absolutely outrageous.

There are millions of people out there that have become extremely comfortable receiving government benefits and it will be extremely difficult to ever get them to give them up.

After all, why bust your behind for 40 or 50 hours a week at some meaningless, low paying job when you can live a similar lifestyle by just depending on government benefits?

The following is a rap video that shows the kind of mindset that is developing all across America.  Please be advised that it contains some very strong language.  It was done by a rapper known as “Mr. EBT”, and it is a perfect example of the kind of attitude that many welfare recipients have today….

Yes, everyone needs a helping hand once in a while.  But if you do have to rely on government benefits for a time, you should be fighting like crazy to improve your situation so that you can get off of them as soon as possible.

Of course the biggest welfare recipients of all are the big corporations.  The federal government showers billions upon billions of dollars on them every year, and this has got to stop.

The following example comes from an article in the Weekly Standard….

General Electric, one of the largest corporations in America, filed a whopping 57,000-page federal tax return earlier this year but didn’t pay taxes on $14 billion in profits. The return, which was filed electronically, would have been 19 feet high if printed out and stacked.

Can you imagine a 57,000 page federal tax return?

That is absolutely disgusting and it is a perfect example of how corrupt our system has become.

All year long, GE has people pouring over the tax code just looking for any little tax loophole that it can exploit.

GE made $14,000,000,000 in profits, but they paid less taxes to the government than you or I did.

There is something very, very wrong with that picture.

All of this unnecessary welfare has got to stop.

No more free cell phones for people on welfare.

No more giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations.

We simply cannot afford it.

The U.S. debt problem is way, way out of control.  We have piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and it gets about 150 million dollars worse every single hour.

Sadly, none of this is likely to change any time soon.

The big corporations provide the money that our politicians need to win campaigns, and most of our politicians are very careful not to bite the hands that feed them.

On the other end of the spectrum, our economy continues to crumble and the number of poor Americans continues to increase.  So even if we don’t provide them with free cell phones, the truth is that the number of Americans that need basic food and housing is not going to go down any time soon.  In fact, it is going to go a lot higher in the years ahead.

We are rapidly becoming a European-style socialist welfare state.

In America today, the poor are absolutely showered with outrageous government benefits and so are the big corporations.

So who pays for all of this?

You and I do.

I am afraid that the joke is on us, and nothing is going to change as long as we keep sending the same kind of politicians back to Washington D.C. over and over.


Michael Snyder is the editor of The Economic Collapse Blog

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  • David C Weaver

    Yes I was a social worker and I knew about these programs. Maybe a few people will actually put this to good use and look for work. In the Philly area where I worked a lot of poor people used pagers and cell phones, for drug deals and other illegal activity. Women on welfare being picked up by a guy in a BMW, yeah sure, made me mad. What the government has failed to do is transition long term welfare clients from welfare to work. The short term people are another story especially in these times. Politics always interferes with what really needs done, to much help to the wrong people, and not enough help to the deserving.

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  • Mary

    My ATT home phone bill and my Verizon wireless bill both went up $2.00 in January 2102 because of increase in universal service fund, that is $48.00 increase per year that I will pay for other people’s free cellphones/minutes, on top of what I have already been paying per year for this USF.

    And I have not received a raise in 2 years at my current work place, along with gas going up, health insurance going up . . . what gives?

    The working class of America should not continue to carry expanded social programs for those who do not work. And by the way, I have an old flip phone with basic minutes, no internet access, etc., because I cannot afford smartphone with monthly internet service fee.

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  • The Truth Be Told

    A recycled cell phone for emergency purposes? Let’s get real here. I personally know someone who is on the assurance wireless plan and they have a brand new IPhone on the government’s dime with free minutes to boot. At least he does have to pay for all the games he downloads…at nearly $50 a month. A dire emergency, right?

    I also know that assurance wireless pays the “poor people” who are getting free phones and free minutes $1500 just to do a little commercial snipit for them and also writes their quotes and responses for them.

    But back to this guy I know…he is a single father who can’t really hold a job. He’s in sales and he applies for a multitude of jobs he’s not qualified for but occasionally he’ll find a sucker who feels sorry for him. Then he’ll work for a month or two…long enough for his employer to find out he’s really a schmuck..i.e. not leaving his house everyday for work. The only reason he’s in sales is because it takes a little longer to prove someone isn’t doing their job, so it buys him a little time. Then when he loses that job, he goes right back to living off the government and religious organizations that pay for his rent, gas, insurance, electricity, water, etc. Then when they start prodding him to get a job again the cycle repeats itself.

    I think these organizations need to be investigated. I’d like to see our money used more wisely. I prefer to give a hand-up not a hand-out.

    Emergency use? What’s wrong with a landline phone that costs $10 a month? Free I-Phones and minutes galore is ridiculous!

    How does it go again? Oh yes, be sure your sin will find you out. Isn’t that right, Good Boy?

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  • Khalijah

    I get up each day and go to work just as I have done all of my life. I have always paid my taxes and take care of my family. You are gripping about a few cents that are paid into a USF to ensure that poor people (not just “Welfare” recipients) can have access to a recycled phone for emergency purposes. I am glad you found out that it was not a part of PRESIDENT Obama’s plan but a plan that’s been around for a number of years. Currently, and for many years, there’s been a lot of “welfare” and crime in high places with a great deal more money taken than that received by poor people. You are surprised at corporations? How much tax do you think wealthy Americans pay? That’s where your anger should be directed.

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  • Evan

    I am a single father of two children. One of my two children is a special needs child. I was a sales manager for an engineering firm that manufactured parts for automobile manufacturers, until I was laid off in 2008. I worked very hard to find another job to support my children, to no avail. I did whatever I could to earn a dollar to support my family. Eventually my land line and cell phones were disconnected because I could no longer pay the bill. I had no way to communicate with specialists for my child’s care, their schools or employers. I had numerous resumes on the internet for employment but with no reliable way to be reached. After applying for and receiving a phone I updated my resumes. Within a few weeks I received a call for an interview and shortly thereafter began a job with one of the largest firms in the country and was employed again. I was eventually downsized again and again I used a phone to find another job. There are 13 million unemployed people in the United States. How do we expect people to dig themselves out of a hole if we do not lend them a shovel?

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  • Jennifer

    How is this outrageous? Have you ever been on welfare? The assumption here is that welfare recipients are just lazy bums living off your hard earned dollars. Tell that to all the working poor, the disabled who DID pay into the system before lack of adequate health care brought them down, and to the vets coming back from war with crippling issues. The poor I live around do come in that “lazy bum” types but most of them work harder to make a few measly dollars than I ever had to when I was a wage earner. It’s more expensive to be poor than it is to be middle class, even the dollar stores in poor neighborhoods charge more than a dollar. Getting a free cell phone doesn’t make a poor person’s lifestyle comparable to someone in the middle class – we’re still dealing with high rent for slum apartments that cause our electric bills to be higher than norm due to inefficiency (and outright holes in the walls), sub-par education for our children (which keeps generations in poverty), it’s nearly impossible to get to a grocery store, we’re often afraid of our less-than-ethical neighbors but without adequate police presence. I could go on and on with the differences between what you perceive to be true and what is actually happening. But you probably won’t listen, you’re too busy being outraged.

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