Call it up


This letter is directed to Michael Brown of Salem who recently wrote in this column his opinion that Labor Day should be re-named Entitlement Day.

Most of his claims are preposterous and not even deserving of a response. But, there is a matter that compels me to respond with some facts which even Mr. Brown’s “right wing idiot brother-in-law” might find interesting while he rants about politics. It is the mistaken notion that everyone on welfare is given free phones by the Obama Administration.

The Federal Communication Commission implemented the Lifeline benefit program to income eligible individuals in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president. As cell phone usage grew, the program was expanded to include cell phones. In 2008, during the administration of George W. Bush the first cellular provider service was launched by TracFone.

The Lifeline program is not available only to welfare recipients. Although the program is implemented by the federal and state governments, qualifications vary from state to state. Generally, a participant must have an income which is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guideline, as well as participate in a federal assistance program.

The Lifeline program is not directly subsidized by taxpayer monies. Instead, it is paid for out of the federal Universal Service Fund through a fee assessed against telecommunications service providers, who may or may not pass those costs along to their customers.

Check it out at

John T. DeFazio