Exposing the Myth Behind Free Obama Phones
The myth of the free Obama phone forms part of the conservative propaganda used to discredit the president. It originated in 2009. The myth states that President Obama is trading free cell phones to welfare recipients in order to secure their votes.
What is the basis of the free Obama phone myth?
The free Obama phone myth has been circulating since about 2009. It is probably based on the fact that there is a government-subsidized program to provide free or cheap cell phones to people with low incomes. This program began in 2008 under President George W. Bush.
How do some conservatives try to use the free Obama phone myth to their advantage?
Many conservatives try to use the free Obama phone myth to discredit President Obama. Some conservative propaganda states that President Obama's supporters are welfare recipients who live on government charity. Of course, statements such as these are exaggerated.
In order to qualify for free cell phone coverage with the Lifeline program, you need to make less than 125 percent of the federal poverty line, though the exact income limit varies by state.
Has the government offered telephone payment assistance under other administrations?
The history of government assistance for telephone service goes back to 1984. Ronald Reagan was the first president to offer telephone payment assistance for the poor under a program called Lifeline. Every president since Reagan has endorsed Lifeline to help the poor get telephone service. Today, free or cheap cell phone service is offered since cell phones have become more widely used than land line phones. Contrary to the myth of the free Obama phone, President Obama is far from the first president to endorse this public service.
What about those websites that specifically offer Obama phones?
These websites are privately owned. They are in no way affiliated with the government or the Obama Administration. They are an attempt by private phone carriers who participate in the Lifeline program to advertise subsidized cell phone services to those who may qualify for it.
The myth of the free Obama phone is perpetuated by some conservatives in an attempt to vilify President Obama. While the government does offer subsidized cell phones to the poor, these programs have been in place in one form or another for decades. Lifeline, the program that helps poor people get free and cheap phones, aims to help the poor, not win their political support.