President Obama leaves office on Friday, January 20, 2017, a fact has many of our readers worried — worried that the ObamaPhone program will end the moment the new President takes the oath of office.
For example, April asked us this question: “I heard rumors that there will no longer be free Government phones once Obama is not in office. Is this true?”
Mark seems to be suffering from similar cell phone jitters: “I need my ObamaPhone. How am I going to keep in touch with my doctors when a new president is elected?”
And JimmyBoy added this concern: “There must be millions of people like me who need their ObamaPhones. Is the program going to end?”
In the words of singer Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” There are a whole slew of reasons to put down the Valium and relax. The Obama Program isn’t going anywhere.
The program is too popular to kill
More than ten million needy Americans have come to depend on their Obama Phones to keep track of their kids, to reach medical professionals, to search for jobs, and to do many other daily tasks that more affluent Americans take for granted.
Very few politicians have the nerve (or the stupidity) to end the subsidy that pays for the Obama Phone program. They just don’t want to anger all those constituents.
The program has inertia
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of inertia, please allow us to explain it because it almost seems as if the word was invented to describe government programs.
Wikipedia says, “Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion; this includes changes to its speed, direction or state of rest. It is the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity. The principle of inertia is one of the fundamental principles of classical physics.”
But the concept of inertia can also be applied to government programs, meaning that once they’re established, they keep going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny.
For example, consider this remarkable paragraph from the Chicago Tribune article in the year 2000:
“The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to repeal a federal telephone tax originally passed to finance the Spanish-American War, when telephones were newfangled luxuries enjoyed by fewer than 1,500 wealthy households.”
In case you’re not an American history buff, the Spanish-American War was fought in 1898, which means it took Congress 102 years to kill an unpopular tax used to fund that war.
We suspect that the Obama Phone program is a lot more popular than war and taxes, so it will continue to help millions of cash-strapped Americans for a long, long time. Far from being eliminated, the Obama Phone program is, in fact, set expand into Obama Broadband.
Obama Phone becomes Obama Broadband
Far from being killed, the Obama Phone program is getting bigger and more robust. Obama Broadband will be here on December 1, 2016 and it will deliver newer, better, smarter cell phones, more minutes, more texts and broadband service.
However, the subsidies that pay for Obama Phones will begin to be phased out beginning in December 2019 and will disappear completely in December 2021. But in place of voice-only service, the Lifeline program will morph into a new Obama Broadband program that offers you free government cell phones and high-speed broadband service that come bundled together.
Within the next 30 days, every Obama Phone customer will receive a minimum of 500 minutes. On December 1, 2017 that minimum will increase to 750 minutes, and on December 1, 2018 it will increase to 1000 minutes.
Don’t worry. Be happy.
President Obama may be going away, but the Lifeline program isn’t going anywhere. Your children and your grandchildren and probably their children will still be able to benefit from it.