Center for Media Justice home of the Media Action Grassroots Network

The FCC is waging a war on poor people

Trump’s FCC Chairman Ajit Pai led the repeal of Net Neutrality last year, but he hasn’t slowed down. What’s next on his chopping block? The Lifeline program, which provides affordable phone and internet access to people living on low incomes.

Pai’s proposed “reforms” to Lifeline will disproportionately harm people of color, seniors, and people with disabilities.

In 2018, access to phone and internet service isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. People across the U.S. use Lifeline-subsidized services to apply to jobs, finish their homework, and stay in touch with loved ones.

Pai’s biggest proposal would kick wireless resellers — who serve over 70% of Lifeline users — out of the program. This would remove over 7 million people from the program and leave large areas of the country without any Lifeline options.

Pai is also proposing a budget cap on Lifeline, cutting funding to eligible recipients and limiting program participation.

A lifetime-benefits cap is another possible change: It would block funding for the most vulnerable users, like elderly people and people with disabilities, by limiting the amount of time a person can use Lifeline.

These cuts are cruel and unnecessary. Dismantling Lifeline would leave more low-income people without access to basic connection and communication. We have to act now — Tell the FCC to leave Lifeline alone.

About the Author

CMJ

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