Popular opposition to the “Lifeline” program, colloquially known since last year as the “Obamaphone” program, appears to be growing. Tracfone Wireless, the company that most benefits from the government subsidy, is now advertising on inside-the-beltway news websites in an effort to save it.
“Obamaphone? Obamaphone?” a flashing banner ad running interchangeably with other ads at the top of Politico’s website reads. “Think again. Lifeline. Created by Reagan.”
“Impact on the deficit? Zero,” another flashing slide argues.
The banner ad takes those who click on it to LifelineFacts.com, an advertising website run by TracFone. “TracFone has worked together with the FCC to adopt tough new reforms to protect the integrity of the Lifeline program,” the bottom of the website reads. “We support ongoing efforts to minimize fraud and ensure that benefits only go to those who qualify and truly need the assistance.”
The Lifeline program was started by Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s but has since grown exponentially. In 2008, it was expanded to allow benefit recipients to use the subsidy for wireless cell phones. During the last election cycle, Drudge Report popularized the term “Obamaphone” after Obama campaign supporters published online videos in which they praised Obama for giving them free cell phones, paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
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