Response to Keith Stanton
In the March 28 edition of this paper, a letter from Keith Stanton in Fremont suggested in a transparently conspiratorial tone that so-called “Obama Phones” allowed the federal government to eavesdrop on civilians at will. I take issue with Mr. Stanton, starting with his premise that there is such a thing as an “Obama Phone”.
It might surprise Mr. Stanton to learn that the program he so derisively refers to was instituted under the Reagan administration in 1985 and is called the Lifeline Program. It was simply a discount on phone service for low income Americans, in part to create easier access to things like emergency services by bringing the cost of service within their reach. In 2005, the Bush Administration expanded the program to include prepaid cell phones, so this program was not an Obama administration initiative, but one he inherited.
Had Mr. Stanton raised the more relevant and appropriate question around whether or not fraud and abuse of the program is weakening its value and bringing its costs into question, I would have nodded my head and acknowledged that he might have a fair point. There does seem to be bipartisan concern in Congress that has prompted questions from both sides of the aisle and already driven reforms that were adopted over a year ago.
But Mr. Stanton took the low road. He misrepresented the program and its issues, trying to instill fear and paranoia to build anger against the President and the federal government, a familiar refrain from the fringe in recent years. Muddying the waters with “black helicopter” theories about government intrusion is not conducive to a rational, practical, and bipartisan discussion about how we allocate financial resources.