The Obama Phone

Just in case the government hasn't given out enough handouts lately, the Obama Administration has decided to start a government-funded cell phone program! Who knew it was now the taxpayer's job to provide cell phones for the government to just hand out?! It's one thing to give out food to the starving or shelter to the homeless, but cell phones? Really?

You can go to this website to find out more about the Safelink Wireless government-funded cell phone program. The site asks for your area code in order to see if your elidgible to qualify. Type in any Texas area code, and you will get this notice, "We’re sorry, but SafeLink Wireless does not currently offer Lifeline Service in your area."

This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. We should be used to having to give our money to the government, never to see it again! Plus, why would Obama be interested in helping out a red state like Texas anyways?


•   SafeLink Wireless was created by TracFone Wireless, Inc. when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved the company to offer Lifeline - a public assistance program that ensures telephone service is available and affordable for low-income subscribers.  

•   The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Lifeline program in 1984 and enhanced the program under Telecommunications Act of 1996.

•   Lifeline support reduces eligible consumers' monthly charges for basic telephone service.

•   Traditionally, the Lifeline program was only available as a discount on a consumer’s landline telephone bill.  SafeLink Wireless applies the Universal Service Fund subsidy to an allotment of free airtime minutes and TracFone provides the wireless handset at the company’s expense.

•   Instead of receiving a subsidized monthly telephone bill for Lifeline service, SafeLink converts the total amount of discounted service (approximately $13.50 of discounted telephone service in most states) into minutes (68 airtime minutes) each month for one year with unlimited access to 911 emergency services.  The cell phone offers in-demand features: voicemail, text, three-way calling, call waiting, and caller ID.

•   The Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at just, reasonable, and affordable rates. The Low Income Program includes three components Lifeline, Link Up, and Toll Limitation Service (TLS).

•   Lifeline, Link Up, and Toll Limitation Service (TLS) help keep Americans connected by providing discounts that make basic, local telephone service more affordable for more than 7 million Americans. Approximately 1,700 telephone companies are eligible to provide these discounts.

•   As of October 2009, SafeLink is available in nineteen states - Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin - and the District of Columbia.

•   Eligibility guidelines vary by state but in general individuals qualify if they participate in a public assistance program such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), National Free School Lunch, Federal Housing/Section 8 Assistance, or if they do not receive any of these public assistance programs, they may also qualify based on total household gross monthly income.

•   Consumers apply for Lifeline, Link Up, and TLS support through their local telephone company or a designated agency. Consumers may apply to the SafeLink Program directly from SafeLink Wireless.

The president has nothig to do with and has no direct impact on the program, and one could hardly call these devices "Obama Phones." This specific program, SafeLink, started under President George Bush, with grants from an independent company created under President Bill Clinton, which was a legacy of an act passed under President Franklin Roosevelt, which was influenced by an agreement reached between telecommunications companies and the administration of President Woodrow Wilson.Low-income households have been eligible for discounted telephone service for more than a decade. But the program is funded by telecom companies, not by taxes, and the president has nothing to do with it. Welfare recipients, and others, can receive a free cell phone, but the program is not funded by the government or taxpayer money.

I couldn't have said it better Kasanra. Safelink most definitely is NOT an Obama phone. I personally believe it is a great program that provides low-income households a chance to get back on their feet. Especially for those who have lost their jobs, its a way to stay connected. I fully support Safelink and the wonderful things it is doing!

Good evening, I was actually researching this program for a project I am doing for one of my classes and came across some interesting information. For starters, the program was started about last year before Obama was even elected, so it was not created by his administration. Heck, it was in motion before he was even elected. Secondly, it may not be in Texas yet, but from my understanding, it is sweeping the nation by regions. It started in the southeast, made its way up north, and is now spreading west. I am not sure, but I do not believe it is available in California, the bluest of all states. LoL. It isn't that bad of a program in all honesty. It is funded by Tracfone and they work with other cell phone providers to offer the service. If the household applying for the phone qualifies, they recieve a basic cellular device and 60 minutes allowance of talk time each month. If additional time is needed, then minutes can be purchased. It may seem like a handout, but in these times of economic turmoil, a hand out to our fellow citizens can't be viewed as something negative. We all need to work together if we are going to make it past this recession. And remember everyone... Hook'em Longhorns!

I understand your point of view on this "Obama phone". However, my son lives in Denver and he knows alot about Safelink and all these pre-paid cell phones. He told me that this Safelink offer has nothing to do with Obama and that it is not even a government program. He said that its a Tracfone program, paid for by Lifeline, for income-eligible people and that it was first offered years ago, before Obama was even in the running.

I am also disappointed that it is not offered down here yet, but am sure that it will be soon. And when it is, I am definately signing up. It seems like a great deal!

My son sent me this link for more info on the matter:

The safelink phone is not an "obama phone"! People are mislableing the phone for somethign it is not. Safelink phones have been around before obama was even in office. They are part of tracfone and the people who are refereing to it as the "obama phone" need to figure out the facts.

The cellphone option is simply a new way to qualify for a low income phone discount that started under the Reagan administration.  It has many advantages for use  as a cellphone over a landline.
I am currently on disability and I qualify.  Blast me if you want for being on assistance, but I worked for many years including nine years in public welfare and advertising.
The poor, with access to a landline with long distance, will run up all kinds of bills and get it cut off.  Then they have no way to call 911.
Also, I've used the discount on landline companies, and they all lie to me, get mysterious charges, etc.  It usually works out to about $15 off a $45 phone bill. I'd rather use it on a landline, but I cant' find one cheap that doesn't lie to me. 
The phone companies have exploited the poor for years, by  giving them access to long distance, letting them run up huge bills  and extorting huge deposits for reconnection.  But now, it's easy to switch phone companies without making big deposits.
Tracfone/Safelink offers 68 minutes virtually free every month with the option of buying more.  Plus, if participant uses up the free minutes, they can still call 911.
Landline companies should be very leery of this program, and start developing true, low cost basic service.  And quit lying!


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