The above video of a screeching Obama supporter praising the president for giving her a “free” phone is circulating the internet. This is the 47% Romney spoke of, those who believe the suckers who actually pay for their own cell service should have to pay more to fund their “free” goodies.
Ironically, the “free” phone program wasn’t started by Obama. It was codified under Clinton, and traces its roots back to Woodrow Wilson and FDR. Safelink, one of the primary companies in the program, came into existence near the end of Bush’s second term. In other words, the woman is both entitled and ignorant, as the “Obama phone” really isn’t an “Obama phone” and probably isn’t going away anytime soon even if Romney wins the election.
FactCheck.org attempts to claim the program isn’t redistributive because it isn’t funded by tax dollars:
Nor is it paid for with “tax payer money,” as the e-mail claims. Rather, it is funded through the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company, an independent, not-for-profit corporation set up by the Federal Communications Commission. The USF is sustained by contributions from telecommunications companies such as “long distance companies, local telephone companies, wireless telephone companies, paging companies, and payphone providers.”
The claim that this isn’t a “tax” is disingenuous at best. The contribution is mandated by government, and wouldn’t otherwise be extracted from consumers. It’s a distinction without a difference, and even FactCheck.org is forced to admit:
The companies often charge customers to fund their contributions in the form of a universal service fee you might see on your monthly phone bill.
In other words: if you pay for your own phone service, you are forced to pay for a portion of someone else’s phone bill as well. You can claim that’s not a tax, but it sure looks like redistribution to me.