by Max Brantley
So we know Tim Griffin loves rich multi-national oil companies, which have given him huge campaign contributions.
Poor people? Where's the love?
Griffin is riding his high horse on Twitter and elsewhere again today on a favorite topic, his legislation to end what he likes to call the free cell phone program. This is dishonest.
There is no "free Obama phone," no matter what the Republican-fed web noise machine might make you think. The Lifeline phone program, in which phone companies pay a tiny fee per customer (sometimes passed along to customers, sometimes not) to subsidize basic phone service, was begun in 1984. Under Ronald Reagan. It has continued. It has been expanded in recent years to allow people to apply the subsidies to cell phone charges, sometimes cheaper than landlines. Only the poorest qualify. (You've noticed haven't you, that landlines are becoming extinct? You've noticed that emergencies don't always happen at home and most people depend on basic cell phones wherever they may be. Cell phones are not considered a luxury any more.) Free phones aren't provided. (Some cellular companies do provide free phones as a lure to get contracts with customers — poor and otherwise. Perhaps you've heard of this.)
Facts don't matter to Tiny-hearted Tim Griffin. He wants to stamp out wireless use by the poor in the Lifeline program. There's never a poor person ground down enough that Tim Griffin can't dig his heel into her neck a little deeper. He proposes to restrict poor people who get an important benefit from Lifeline phone service (not at taxpayer expense, remember) to landline service. Why should they have communication access anywhere? The rest of us might not to have to look at poor people so often if only they'd stay at home by their dial phones.
Remember: Tiny Tim wants you to believe this program is buying web-surfing iPhones for the masses. It is doing no such thing.
Snopes can give you the rundown better than I. Or maybe you'd be more persuaded by the commies at Forbes. Note too that the subsidy is available to only one phone per household. By the way: It was the Bush Administration that expanded the program to cell phone bills. It's not unlimited service, but covers 250 minutes a month, or about 8 minutes of phone a day.
Oh by the way: Ads promoting the Lifeline service have featured minority phone users. Coincidentally, opponents of the phone service like to use those very ads in their attacks on the program. Wonder why? I know it's not race. Because Republicans assured me that race had NOTHING to do with those ads featuring the black doctors that were circulated all over Arkansas to defeat candidates said to support Obamacare.