Universal Service Fund
By: Mark Hyman
It’s right on your monthly bill. The Universal Service Fund is a pass-thru fee the phone companies charge you that they in-turn give to the government. Essentially it’s a 16% tax.
The Lifeline program has been around for 15 years. But annual costs have more than doubled from $800 million in 2008 to nearly $2 billion today. Approximately 12 million people have gotten free phones. According to one estimate, as many as 50 million households qualify under current rules.
Investigations (here, here & here) have found unqualified recipients, recipients getting multiple phones, and extra phones being sold to drug dealers. The GAO found the program rife with fraud, waste & abuse. [See the GAO report here.]
The Lifeline program is only a symptom. The underlying problem is the Universal Service Fund. It is a multi-billion dollar slush fund authorized by Congress, managed by the Federal Communications Commission, fuels crony capitalism, and provides political benefits to those savvy enough to capitalize on it.
It is another government program that picks the pocket of the working people.
Abolish the Universal Service Fund.
Mark Hyman hosts "Behind the Headlines," a commentary program for Sinclair Broadcast Group.