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Corruption in the ObamaPhone Program? I am Shocked, I tell You! Shocked!

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There is an iconic scene in the movie classic Casablanca, in which Captain Renault is forced to find a reason to shut Rick’s establishment down, and chooses gambling as the arbitrary reason. “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” he says, as a man approaches him with a handful of his own winnings. He accepts the money without missing a beat and moves on.

There is no better scene to describe the outrage on display over the discovery that a free government phone program is being abused.

CBS Denver reports:

Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Ajit Pai says a CBS4 probe of a government cellphone program revealed fraud, waste and abuse in the government’s Lifeline cellphone program that he called “shocking.” “The CBS4 story highlighted the fact that in places there are no safeguards, workers are signing up people using fraudulent certifications,” said Pai, one of five FCC commissioners.

The comments from one of the top administrators at the FCC came seven months after the CBS4 investigation and just weeks after Pai played the CBS4 broadcast report at a monthly FCC meeting so his four fellow commissioners could see problems with the program before they voted to broaden the program to include broadband service.

“This is an FCC program, and if we don’t take action, fraud like this will persist,” said Pai.

…The showing came as the FCC commissioners were considering expanding the Lifeline program to broadband so eligible recipients can receive broadband service the same way they currently receive cellphone service. Pai found it objectionable that the agency would consider expanding a massive program that’s been shown to be susceptible to abuse.

To his credit, it’s always better late than never to realize that government handout programs with almost no oversight have unintended consequences. Unfortunately, his protests fell on deaf ears.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, more than 12 million American homes are participating in the Lifeline program, up from about seven million in 2008. In Colorado in 2014 the program handed out about 117,000 free cellphone plans in the first half of the year. Despite Pai’s opposition the FCC commissioners voted 3-2 along party lines to expand the Lifeline program to broadband.



Tom Borelli

Dr. Tom Borelli is a Newsmax TV contributor and radio commentator addressing political issues from a conservative grassroots perspective. As a columnist, he has written for The Washington Times and authored articles for Newsmax Magazine, Newsmax Insider and previously was a co-host with his wife Deneen Borelli on the SiriusXM Patriot channel. Dr. Borelli appeared on numerous television programs, including the highly ranked Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” “Hannity,” “The Kelly File," and "America’s News Headquarters." He has also appeared on Fox Business Network’s “Making Money with Charles Payne” and “After the Bell” as well as TheBlaze TV’s "The Glenn Beck Program" and "Dana!" Prior to working for public policy organizations, Dr. Borelli was a managing partner with the investment advisory firm of Action Fund Management, LLC and a portfolio manager for the Free Enterprise Action Fund (FEAF) where he used shareholder activism to challenge corporations that sought to profit from the growth of government. During his 25 years with the Altria Group, Inc., he built a foundation in public policy and issues management, drawing from diverse experiences ranging from basic research to corporate affairs. Dr. Borelli served as science fellow for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space, and Technology during the 100th Congress. Dr. Borelli has also published scientific papers on interferon and human leukemia.

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