There’s a growing movement among lawmakers across the country. They are attempting to curry favor with voters by speaking out against Lifeline Assistance, the government program that provides free cell phones for needy citizens.
Here are just two recent examples of these misguided pronouncements from puffed up politicians:
John Syracuse, a legislator from Newfane, and Kathryn Lance, a lawmaker from North Tonawanda, want the United States Congress to repeal of what they call a “tax” – the Universal Service Fund that subsidizes home phones, cell phones and internet service. They contend that although it’s called a fee, it’s really a tax.
Syracuse and several other elected members of the Niagara County Legislature have called on their congressional representatives to help them end the program.
According to the Tonawanda News, “The government raises the fund by charging telecommunication providers a quarterly percentage of their revenues. The charge in the first quarter of 2012 is 17.9 percent, up from 15.3 percent in the last quarter of 2011. In turn, many companies charge their customers a Universal Connectivity Fee, a percentage assessment on long distance and service charges. As of Jan. 1, AT&T hiked its connectivity fee to 17.9 percent, the same as the feds’ fee on it.”
“These free phones are really a user tax on your phones,” Syracuse said. “… We’re calling on our (congressional) delegation to help find ways to improve broadband services to rural counties … and repeal this Universal Service tax.”
Next door in Cattaraugus County, lawmakers have asked Congress to repeal the Federal Communications Commission tax on cell phone users.
According to the Orlean Times Herald, Legislature Chairman Norman Marsh, who represents Little Valley, sponsored the resolution, which was immediately introduced in the Legislature.
“We’re paying for it,” Mr. Marsh succinctly summed up.
Lifeline Assistance, the program that raises the politicians ire, offers free government cell phones to anyone receiving state or federal assistance such as food stamps, housing aid, Medicaid, free school lunches, or to those whose household income is no more than 135% of federal poverty level. Those who are eligible can get a free cell phone plus up to 250 cell minutes of airtime each month.
We urge all FreeGovernmentCellPhone.net readers to contact their city, county, state and federal representatives to express their support for the Lifeline Assistance program. In today’s worrisome economy, more people are unemployed and underemployed and desperately need a way to reach prospective employers, a way to keep in touch with their children, a way to stay in touch with their medical providers and a way to reach out for help in case of emergencies.
Call your representatives today. Let them know that you support this valuable program.