Even as Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was repealing net neutrality, FCC chairman Ajit Pai was launching another attack on our ability to communicate – by threatening to cut the Lifeline program. Lifeline helps 12.5 million low-income people access internet or phone service.1 Now Pai wants to disconnect them.
The FCC is currently considering Pai’s proposal to slash Lifeline. We need a strong show of opposition to resist his plan.
Broadband internet access is critical for completing schoolwork and applying for jobs – the very things that can help people make it out of poverty. By cutting Lifeline, Pai would make it even harder for low-income families to get ahead. This is the latest assault on the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society.
The program has helped low-income and rural household access phone service since 1985. Under President Obama, the FCC expanded Lifeline to include broadband internet and mobile phone service.
Pai’s plan could eliminate access for 70 percent of Lifeline mobile users. He has proposed cutting Lifeline support for resellers, or phone carriers that use other carriers’ networks. Because resellers are often cheaper than the major carriers, 70 percent of Lifeline users rely on them for service.2 While there have been problems with some unscrupulous resellers, Pai’s plan would eliminate them all from the Lifeline program, leaving consumers without affordable options – and with no options in some places.3
Pai also wants to impose a budget cap on Lifeline and limit the internet service providers that can offer subsidized service. While these changes are still just proposals, he has already made some cuts to the program. The FCC voted to eliminate a special subsidy for consumers living in Tribal areas unless they switch from resellers to major carriers like AT&T or Sprint.4 When this goes into effect, some Tribal areas could lose access to Lifeline entirely.
At a time when the Trump Tax Scam has given away billions by slashing taxes for the wealthy and corporations, Trump’s FCC wants to nickel and dime low-income Americans. Instead of proposing commonsense reforms to improve accountability, Pai is trying to gut a program that has helped Americans for over 30 years.
Tell the FCC: Don’t cut the Lifeline program. Click here to sign the petition: