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Republicans want to kill the FCC's plan to subsidize internet for the poor

Republicans want to kill the FCC's plan to subsidize internet for the poor


The 'Obama phone' debate rages on

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This week, the FCC proposed offering internet subsidies to poor Americans, and Republicans in Congress are already lining up to slam the idea.

"Waste, fraud, abuse, and a pervasive lack of accountability."

The FCC's proposal is an overhaul of the agency's "Lifeline" program, which provides subsidies on phone service to poor Americans — a program that's been widely criticized by Republicans as an "Obama phone" hand-out. (This is erroneous: the program was actually created under Ronald Reagan.) Republicans have already moved to crack down on the Lifeline phone program in some parts of the country, claiming that it's rife with fraud. But while the FCC has indeed moved to mollify those concerns, the crackdown in some parts of the country has been detrimental to poor Americans relying on the program.

With that backdrop, it may not be too surprising that Republicans were ready to criticize the move, as National Journal reports. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune has already called the program an example of "waste, fraud, abuse, and a pervasive lack of accountability," according to the Journal, while Sen. David Vitter said the "FCC has failed to manage Lifeline efficiently in its current form, and I cannot support any expansion of a program that has so few safeguards in place to protect the legitimacy of the program and the American taxpayers who pay into it."

That's surely a disappointment to the FCC, which was hoping to get Republicans on board with the plan by only allowing people to put the existing phone credit toward broadband service instead of directly expanding the program, while providing checks to prevent abuse. The FCC will likely vote on whether to move ahead with the proposal at a June 18th meeting.