August 4th, 2011
01:38 PM ET

Govt. decide if poor people get free cell phones?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Free cell phones for the poor. Yet another example of where our government is getting involved.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/08/04/cell-phone.jpg]

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports on programs that provide free cell phones and 250 monthly minutes to people receiving government support like Medicaid or food stamps.

These programs, which exist in most states, are paid for by the federal Universal Service Fund. Federal law requires all telecom providers contribute to this fund.

An industry spokeswoman tells the newspaper that all cell phone carriers charge consumers a fee to recover the cost of their contribution to the fund.

Translation: People who pay cell phone bills are also helping pay for those who get free cell phones.

There are millions of participants nationwide in these programs. Customers only need to provide proof of income in order to qualify.

Supporters say the program is about "peace of mind,” that it's one less bill for someone to pay so they can afford to pay their rent or day care.

But critics say free cell phone service is no right, that you don't need a cell phone to live.

One expert at the Heritage Foundation calls the free cell phone programs "particularly wasteful and unnecessary,” adding that our society can't afford to give free everything to everybody.

Other experts suggest programs like these could help the overall economy since having a phone can help people find jobs – especially since public pay phones aren't on every corner like they used to be before cell phones became so prominent.

Here’s my question to you: Should the government decide whether poor people get free cell phones?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: On Jack's radar
soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. Dave - Phx, Az

    No, that's completely absurd.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  2. Loren

    You must be kidding. The only civil rights are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and cell phone privileges aren't one of them.

    The budget deficit is at mind-boggling levels, and some idiot wants to add more by giving out free cell phones. Aren't these idiots paying anying attention? We are broke.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  3. k. gray

    absolutely not.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  4. Jamie in St. Louis

    What???? Are you serious???

    August 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  5. Madge from Saratoga Springs, NY

    No way. Every person has always paid for their own phone, be it a landline or a cell.

    August 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  6. Russ in PA

    Jeez Louise, when will this nonsense end! You want a cell phone, then buy one at Walmart for $29! Suggesting that a free cell phone is a right also presumes that others are to be responsible for supplying them, which means more taxes, more intrusion into our lives.

    I suppose the only thing that will end such nonsense is the coming bursting of the socialism bubbles in the US and Europe (thanks to Tom Mullen for the term). Of course, most commentators on CNN don't actually pay attention to the harm that Keynesian economics continues to perpetuate in the world.

    Ron Paul in 2012...

    August 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  7. Kevin SD, Ca

    Are you serious? What does having a cell phone have to do with Civility? Giving Low Class Humans cell phones could work against civility by enabling them to further their criminal enterprises more than it does anything else! Do any of these liberals have any ability to reason deductively?

    August 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  8. Tim in Castle Rock, CO

    Jack, I cannot believe that anyone is even asking this question! After a month of debates caused by millions of people who feel entitled to their government checks and programs, we are trying to make people feel entitled to mobile phones? Don't people understand that the raging growth in a sense of entitlement is why we are in this mess?

    August 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  9. Nate NC

    Seriously? That's like saying the Internet should be a civil right so that people can access porn or facebook whenever, wherever. America is addicted to its own convenience. Civil Rights should be reserved to the things can could otherwise cause Oppression.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  10. Rich McKinney, Texas

    Not hardly. People in this country have a hard enough time walking and chewing bubble gum. Giving them another free distraction would be a terribly bad idea. No one in this country is so important that they need to be reached 24 hours a day no mater where they are. Perhaps if people spent more time face to face with their children and family and less time on Mobil devices trying to avoid them then we would all be better off and a bit healthier for it. These devices all have off buttons and more people should use them.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  11. johnny

    Getting access to a telephone is truly a dilemma...we cant even get pay phones when there is an emergency.Having access to telephone ,when we helped finance the research for the cell phone would make sense...

    August 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Bob from GA

    Jack....Don't tell me some Washington knucklehead is proposing free cells phones as part of the Bill of RIghts. It wouldn't surprise me though with the nonsense that is taking place up there lately.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  13. Ed from Md

    Yes because it is self evident that all cell phones are created equal, endowed by their creator with tracking devices and mind killing magnetic fields.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  14. Brad, Portland, OR

    No. Even considering this is insane.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  15. Ken in NC

    Let me be blunt, a free cell phone should be a civil right as long as you pay for it.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    tampa, fl only if the govt can't listen in on them. i don't have a cell phone, don't want one, don't need one. can't understand why my tax dollars are providing free cell phones to welfare cases either. maybe if they weren't on the phone all the time they could look for a job. as for being a right, are we replacing the 1st, 2nd, and 4th amendments with this amendment since our govt took those away from us?

    August 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  17. linda lamm

    no I don't think we are allowed to have it as a civil right, on less it goes through the big White house .things take soooo long ...........linda

    August 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  18. Dan K

    Might as well. We've made everything else a civil right!! Anything free is a civil right now it seems. Free medical, free to choose killing babies, freedom to do anything we say is "right" is considered a "civil right"!
    Maybe we can make it a civil right to rob a bank if you can't find a job or are to lazy to work so you can feed your family while we're at it!

    August 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  19. Dave

    There should only be emergency phone ares for car accidents or other emergencies. People should pick up a phone for what, 10 bucks?

    August 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  20. Jenna Roseville CA

    Should free cell phones be a civil right?


    My Landline is not free so why would I expect my Cell phone to be free?

    And why would anyone consider it a "Civil Right"

    Roseville CA

    August 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  21. Jk from Minnesota

    NO! Land lines weren't ever free. What a silly idea.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  22. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    We got along just fine before cell phones. The only way I can see cell phones becoming a civil right is, if they only have one button and when you push it, you get a direct line to Congress to leave them know how you feel about the way our country is being run.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  23. Kevin Whited

    Oh My God, its funny we were talking about this today on Facebook were you reading my posts? Certainly isn't it obvious if you can't afford something clearly the government should provide it to you at everyone else's expense.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  24. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    Huh? How has free access to a relatively recent gadget become a civil right? Is access to free cable next?

    August 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  25. Tom (Atlanta)

    That's a great idea Jack. Then we could sue the Federal Government for all the brain damage it created with the radiation (a stimulus), collect free medical care (it's there for free now anyhow; so, why not utilize it), and, think of all the jobs we've created paying the lawyers, doctors and supporting administration of all this stuff. Now that's a "win-win" for everyone; right Nancy?

    August 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  26. Bobby Lahmon MS

    First of all nothing is free we pay dearly for everything in one way or another besides cell phones have became tracking devices more so than means of communication anyway but free cell phones to be a civil right seem like to the right should be to purchase it

    August 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  27. John in Alabama

    Jack: Free cell phones should be provided to senior citizens on a fixed income for safety and security reasons. These cell phones should limited in the number of minutes annually. They be free or at a reduced price, but no they are not a civil right. If the senior citizen makes more than $20,000.00 a year they can pay for a cheap track phone sold at a retail outlet.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  28. Annie, Atlanta

    No, but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the cost of owning one get slashed, just like they did with long distance calls from land lines years ago. I have one "just in case," and most of the time honestly don't even know where it is.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  29. Pete in Georgia

    FREE cell phones ??
    Are you nuts ??
    For all the nuisance and trouble they cause in everyday life plus the highway deaths caused with no existing honest measurable statistics available.......................cell phones should be banned not expand useage.
    They are just another nail in the coffin of a society turning inward toward self.
    When's the last time a teenager ever made eye contact with you ??
    Way too busy hammering out texts that have no useful purpose.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  30. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    No cell phones should be paid for by the user and while on the subject, stop people from driving a weapon and talking and texting.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  31. Joey from Columbus, Ohio

    I was really hoping you'd ask a question about the markets. I miss seeing you In The Money.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  32. Tony Brooks from Topeka

    Yes, I think they should be along with Marijuana, porter-house steaks, and cold beer.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  33. Rick, Medina, OH


    To focus on everything is the functional equivalent of focusing on nothing! 'Progressive' thinkers continually attempt to redefine and expand human and civil rights, and the role of government to obtain and maintain them. If today is a typical day, over 50 million Americans and about one in seven kids will have food and nutritional issues today. Let's focus and solve something, before taking on a new issue.

    Medina, OH

    August 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  34. Raj, Toronto

    We are a country out of control, how about cars be a civil right Jack. It looks like Americans believe that material items are our constitutional right to have regardless of having to work for them. Americans have their priorities backwards, how about fighting for what is in that document we use to call the, constitution, bill of rights. Forget the patriot act or the super congress, as long as we have cell phones, all our worries will be over Jack. Remember they told us to pass the bailout and everything will be fine, remember when they told us to pass the debt ceiling and everything will be fine. Washington is full of crocks, and we are doomed if we continue to repeat such idiotic actions. We need a Ron Paul, the media needs to be responsible and push for his bid for president, not to ignore him and discredit him. For it is he who accurately predicted everything that our country currently faces, he is the last true American statesmen, how many politicians can you say that for Jack.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  35. Dennis in Florida

    Hell NO !!! Nothing in life is free.

    The cost of the phones will end up being added to the 14 trillion dollar US debt and that will be one more thing to help sink the ship.

    What we need are ‘free’ Kleenex to wipe away the tears as the economy dies.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  36. Pete Carton

    I think you mean "Should cell phone use and content be subject to a right of privacy?"

    August 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  37. Reggie

    That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard... a cell phone being a civil right. That is why our economy is in such dire straits because of the nonsense the government is doing with our tax dollars. If somebody who is on welfare or unemployment want to have a cell phone, let them take whatever money they get and use that to buy the phone. I do not see why they should be entitled to anything else over and above their check. This is so stupid that only a democrat government would allow anything like this. That's why our country is in so much debt.....wasteful spending.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  38. Ron

    When you say FREE are you talking paid for with my taxes?
    Absolutley not.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  39. Darrel

    NO! But I would like to mention that services that are definitely a part of every day life should be made more affordable for the masses. We all use food, water and utilities everyday. But do we really need cable, telephone, and internet? A majority of the people I know consider the second three just a media platform for entertainment. Live within your means AMERICA!

    August 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  40. Jim, Denver CO


    No. But free medical care and education should be. The problem with this country is that our priorities are all screwed up.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  41. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: Sure it should be---but only if you can afford it!

    August 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  42. Roy Hedlund

    Jack I love like a brother and that's the best idea I've heard yet, are you kidding me or what? I assume this is another goverment program by the boys who just went on a 5 week vacation and this will be funded by us tax payers, however in order to get one you have to give up something., lets start with food stamps, free housing,free medical, free education, WICK and all the other ones I left out, need I go on?

    August 4, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  43. Brian Perriello in Biloxi, MS

    If land line phones are a civil right, then cell phones should be too.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  44. pat, Idaho

    Who brought this brilliant idea up? Why should cell phones be free in the first place?

    August 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  45. Jim from Concord, NC

    Please tell me this is a joke question! Why on earth would anyone think they have a right to a free cell phone? What's next– free wide-screen TV?

    August 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  46. Bill in PA


    Cell phones – N O !

    But freedom from loss of our savings should be.
    A fair income tax system should be.
    Access to medical care should be.
    Access to education should be.
    Fair living wages with benefits should be.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  47. Roger from Albion PA

    Yes, and borrowing another trillion dollars from China to buy them sounds like a great plan. It should stimulate the economy so I'm sure nothing bad will come from it.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  48. Terry in Virginia

    The term "civil right" is getting watered down to the point it'll soon be meaningless. If free cell phones become a civil right, then I suggest the following necessities should also be free and a civil right: housing, utilities, food, gas, clothing, healthcare, transportation, and my ancient landline phone. Where shall we send the bill for these things? The government's broke and so am I. How about you, Jack? Do you want to pick up the check this time?

    August 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  49. Dario G. Legal American Citizen

    Mr. Cafferrty, Lets see.. "Your civil rights are being violated because the government /state failed to give you a Cell phone.. Ahh. NO...

    When will these Liberal Progressives stop thinking the Government has a golden Goose to lay golden Eggs for every Brain Cell missing ideas they come up with.. What is happening to our country... What's next give away IPADs, GM Cars, and the underwear you wear...

    Brother, can you spare a dime... has become Brother my civil rights are being denied, so pay me for breathing..

    Dario G, Buffalo NY

    August 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  50. Curtis in Philadelphia

    No. Remember public pay-phones? Were they a civil right? No.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  51. James Lenon @chuckey TN

    Only if they are manufactured with a remote mute to silence the idiots who feel that we all need to hear their conversations as they delay an infinite number of check-out lines and service counters.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  52. Jim S

    Are you kidding Jack? This makes as much sense as giving everyone a television. NO!

    August 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  53. Joseph Tolbert

    Should free cell phones be a civil right? No..But a free way of communication for a life or death situation yes, If that has to be a cell phone like device that doesn't have a facebook button or instant access to twitter, I would be in favor of that.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  54. Jan From DE

    LOL.......who thought up this whacky question?

    August 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  55. BILL, WI

    Why not free beer? I'm a responsible adult and I would stay home with my case of free beer and get plastered.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  56. Tom from Nebr.

    Jack, Don't have one, don't want one, could care less about the infernal things except when I'm in a car behind someone who is using one and driving erratically.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  57. Lori - PA


    I would rather have a job as opposed to a cell phone. And shouldn't that be the goal of our government? Shouldn't government be making an effort at jobs creation rather than providing free cell phones to people?

    August 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  58. Kathie

    No way. i have to pay for my cell phone so why should someone else get a phone with more minutes than most can afford with texting and other perks for free? Not fair or right. a waste of government money.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  59. Gary H. Boyd

    Only if they make the key boards bigger Jack. I've got fat fingers.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    August 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  60. Joe

    I suppose that will be my argument when the policeman pulls me over as I am driving down the road talking (and God forbid texting) for the last 100 miles. Believe it or not Jack, I have seen many women and sometimes men talking on the phone in their car, and as we travel along the same roadway the same person continues to "Yak" in their car often wandering from line to line. Must be they are drunk in the head?
    Joe, Binghamton, NY

    August 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  61. David in Tampa

    Don't think so Jack. I'm 62, never used one, and probably couldn't turn the infernal thing on or call 911 if your life depended on it. If I had one, my minutes would expire before I could 200. They are handy and can help sometimes, but mostly they provide people with a platform to unnecessarily flap their gums as a pulse check.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  62. Ken Victoria BC

    Hello Jack. Yes but in a world very much in the future. Perhaps your next book should be Two Thousand One, and Eleven.Next Question!

    August 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  63. Jeff In Minnesota

    Why not? And while we are at it, let's also make Corvettes and homes civil rights as well. If we're going down, we may as well go down in style.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  64. Sarah

    What? Cell phones are not a right. There are very few circumstances where they are even a necessity. Convenient? Yes. Necessary? No. If electricty and clean water are not civil rights, then why would a free cell phone be?

    August 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  65. Ronda (from Canastota, NY)

    Cell phones should remain what they are now, a commodity people can choose to have. Not everyone wants or needs a cell phone and all the bells and whistles that go with owning one. However, every residential home and apartment should have a free land-line phone capable of dialing 911. If the homeowner or tenant wants to use that phone as a normal land-line in addition to 911, they can call their local phone company to sign up for a service plan at current rates to have it activated.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  66. John

    OF course we should! we can put that in the budget along with free candy on tuesdays. Instead of quantitative easing, we can give out 600 trillion cell phones!

    August 4, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  67. Ryan Nicolai

    Is it a fundamental necessity to life? No, there is your answer.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  68. dave in nashville

    911 isn't free, get your own phone.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  69. Dennis north carolina

    free cell phones is not a civil right nor should it be part of social service. our social service system needs to be totally over hauled. no one should have a free ride on life while many people work hard just to survive. we need to stop this now.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  70. AB

    The federal government should give free limited service cell phones to poor people–especially the elderly poor for emergency and safety purposes. Furthermore, I think that poor people should be computer literate like the middle class and the wealthy and should have free access to computers.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  71. jack lancaster pa

    Great another hand out the working class must
    pay for to help people that don't look to better themselves
    so they may pay for their own goodies.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  72. TakeBackMyBirthday

    Recent evidence suggests that the government is incapable of deciding anything at all. Mary, Philly.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  73. Dave in Cincinnati

    No. It is not a right. I pay for mine others can pay for theirs as well.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  74. chris

    no jack if you can't afford it the phone or the monthly bill no they can't have a phone as tech addicts we are all are cell phone if not a need it is a want yes it is useful but if you can't p[pay for it your self then you can't have one that's next poor should have cars if they can't afford one

    August 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  75. Larry Feierstein-Denver

    Should the government decide who is fat?
    Should the government decide who is drinking too much soda?
    Should the government decide to take a recess when they have not done any work?
    These are questions symbollic of what seems to be important to our governing bodies.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  76. Michael Roepke

    I don't think free is an option, but there should be something done about the pricing. The idea of our guessing how many minutes we might use and than gouging us for going over is almost criminal. And now there is talk of doing the same thing on the internet.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  77. Randy

    Why not, we give foreign aid to countries like Israel who give every israeli free healthcare. Fifteen billion to "private" airports so billionaires/millionaires have a place to park their planes. 3 trillion to wall street so they can hand out million dollar bonuses to people who couldn't run a lemonade stand. Come to think of it...every American citizen should get a new car as a civil right.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  78. Mr. D

    Can you hear me now? The government should concentrate on taking cell phones away from lobbiest.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  79. Pat Ludy

    Are you nuts????????????What a dumb question!

    August 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  80. marybeth, massachusetts


    What...Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman didn't provide you with enough fodder for a question tonight? It must be a slow day in the media universe.

    No....a cell phone isn't a necessity. Shelter and food, yes, those are needs. A cell phone is a want, and thus not a priority. Besides, who is going to pay for the cell phones and the services? Surely not the gov't, who is broke. Surely not cell phone manufacturers nor providers, because that would cut into their bottom line profits.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  81. Jason

    You should ask the Tea Party.. Sounds like more spending and more government. Not sure they will like that. Cell phones also are not necessity. Remember the days when you could leave home and dissapear?
    West Chester Pa

    August 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  82. Ralph Nelson

    No. Give them a jop instead.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  83. SLK 65

    Yeah, just what we need another hand out for people to lazy to get a job!

    August 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  84. Gary Leming

    The federal government has no business getting involved in the distribution of cell phones to anyone. States and local governments should administer all programs, not the federal government. We need to downsize the federal government. If I had my way tatoos and 20 inch rims would also be banned by folks receiving government assistance.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  85. Ken from Pinon Hills, California

    Certainly, and a car to talk while driving, like the rest of us.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  86. Remo, from beautiful downtown Pflugerville Texas

    Sure! Let's give them a car too, and how about some nice furniture!
    I'll just write you another tax check. Oh say, I'm a little short, can you raise my debt ceiling for me? Oh never mind, I'll just print some money and cover it myself.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  87. Steve, Clifton, VA

    Yes if the Government is paying for the so called free cell phone!!

    August 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  88. andyz Lynn, MA

    Which idiot in Washington thinks this idea is a good idea? What would be next What's next, a weekend at Wendy's? Free pizza for the masses? Anyone notice the congressional death match we recently experienced? Maybe its just me but shouldn't we recall these fools?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  89. Brian, Cuyahoga Falls OHIO

    Are you seriously posing this question? If so, I am seriously saying NO! A cell phone is a luxury, not a necessity! It's ridiculous that anyone would even think of this otherwise. Stop by a pay phone, a business, hell ask someone on the street. To think of putting THIS, another bill on the backs of taxpayers should get nothing more than a busy tone!

    August 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  90. Raymond Thibault

    It really depends on who gets the Cell phone. An elderly or disabled person I could support. The possibility exists that Drug Dealers and other shady people could get free communication. This is a very scary possibility.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  91. Ed in Sacramento

    Yes they should decide as long as the answer is no. On second though Heck No might be better 🙂

    Ed in Sacramento CA

    August 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  92. bruce

    I'd rather see a bill requiring the representatives to abide by all the laws that apply to the rest of us.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  93. Andrew Wede

    Are you kidding me? And we wonder why we are broke.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  94. Karl in Flint

    No, it’s a ridiculous program but try to get the cell companies to stop charging the fee if they ever do kill the program. We’ll still be paying for those free phones no one has. Corporate America at it’s finest.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  95. Akin

    This is government getting too big.
    This is not a right and phone bills should not be subsidised by government.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  96. Paul From Austin Texas

    No! Why would a poor person need a cell phone and just were would a person be considered poor. If things keep going the way they seem to be going we all will be able to get a free cell phone.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  97. Burbank from CA

    Jack, This sort of thing is exactly why I left the Democratic party and became independent. Does that answer your question?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  98. Pame FiveAshe

    Of course!...Poor people get ill, too or live an unsafe area where crime is high or fire break out...Unless you want to go back to call boxes on every corner (I remember these from Brooklyn NY) then the cell phone is the way to go...Isn't it the DUTY of US government to reasonably provide safety to ALL its citizen...Even the least of our breathern?...

    August 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  99. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    Hell no, this is just another give away program that will end up costing the people who work and pay taxes.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  100. Chuck O'Connor - North Carolina

    The phones are NOT for the poor. They are for Social Security Recipents who can't afford phones. Fact Check before you ask the questions,Jack!

    August 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  101. Tim

    The market crash began last week with the Tea Party holding up the increase in the debt ceiling. The market thru today has lost a trillion dollars and the origin of this loss points directly to them.
    Will they get off scott free with their unconscionable actions that have hurt every american? Do we let them?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  102. Terry in Virginia

    Virginia is one of several states that offers TracFone's SafeLink Program where people under a certain income level can get a "free" cell phone and service with a low amount of minutes per month for a year. In today's world some form of phone communication is a necessity especially when looking for or keeping a job, keeping tabs on the kids, and for emergencies.

    P.S. I'm glad you changed this question from a free cell phone being a "civil right." That question may have made Anderson Cooper's Ridiculist. Gotta watch that guy some time, Jack.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  103. Margie

    This is the kind of benefit that needs to be cut now! Why should hard working tax-paying citizens pay for a cell phone for those on welfare.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  104. Unhappy (with my Rep) Fisherville, KY

    Yes, and they should decide–ABSOLUTELY NOT. Half the people who lost their homes had everyone in the family on the latest tech phone. Nobody needs a phone! Yes, it's a nice convenience, and a fun toy, but not a necessity. And I shouldn't have to pay for it.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  105. Denny from Tacoma

    I am a little confused here. The cell phones are to replace the diminishing supply of public pay phones? Didn't the users of public pay phones have to "pay" for their calls? Why the free minutes?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  106. Gary in Pa

    And you are wondering about the Tea Party. Yet the government is going to hand out cellphones. Come on Jack, give me a break. Let's give all of you democrats free room and board, clothes on your back and food in your belly. What else?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  107. Zach S

    As I understand it, we just need to tax the corporate jet owners a LITTLE more and all of our problems will be solved.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  108. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    No wonder my cell phone bill is so high!

    August 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  109. Kennalea from Springfield, MO

    There i no constitutional right to a cell phone. Let citizens give up their cigarettes and cable tv and internet to pay for cell phones,

    August 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  110. Jane Frances - PA

    Just what we need – more people talking/texting and walking into mall fountains and more people talking while driving.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  111. Mark from Voorhees, NJ

    I think it is a good idea. Why should we be the only ones to be constantly GPS located and tapped?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  112. carlos

    why should paying consumers help pay for something the government should pay for stop asking us to pay your bills government

    August 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  113. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    I'm against this program. There are enough pay phones in existence and certainly some neighbor would have a phone in case of emergency. My bills are high enough without starting to pay other people's bills too. Since all large telecom providers have to participate then let them qualify the people and give the phones directly to the recipient and have the telecoms write this off on their taxes instead of making me make an unknown contribution. I'll pick my own charities Thank You.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  114. JoeInMA

    Give me a break. What's next? Cars, Houses, Trips to Hawaii?
    GET A JOB and earn it yourself!

    August 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  115. Bill in New Mexico

    Let's wait a while:

    We have yet to see the damage of the "Democrat's Health Care" to both:

    -–the annual budget


    We have yet to see the effectiveness of the Super Committee.

    It will be a miracle if 50% of social security lasts through 2017. And if it does not, then no.

    Otherwise, yes.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  116. Mitoosense Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Real sore spot here. The small benefits the poor extract from the nickles and dimes falling from the welfare baskets is nothing compared to the Corporate Thieves who feed from Americas less fortunate.In this particular case it's Media, kinda like yourself. The people who make handsome livings from the Government 40% stake in our GDP. Media who live large in tax deductible advertising for elections pandering an increase of juniors juice or soda should be taxed is the current logic. Great for Media and Political Scoundrels but, what about junior? Health Care and Pharmacuticals selling prime time drugs and electric wheel chairs is another. Or we could talk about insurance ezecutive paying CEO salary of 101.96 million a year in pure greed. Let's not forget $4.00 gasoline either. I'm against it all. But don't even blame it on the poor trying to call home and check on their kids.....That dog won't hunt bub

    August 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  117. Ken from Mahwah NJ

    Cell Phones are a privilege not a necessity. Why not issue free panic buttons instead. Wait a minute, we would be taxed to support that also right ?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  118. Stephen Charchuk

    Yes. Keeping in touch is a necessity in today's world in case of an emergency. Its not as if it is unlimited either. If they require more time they can buy pre-paid phone cards themselves.

    Groups, like the Heritage Foundation, don't want ANYONE to have ANYTHING at all. They are small people.

    Yarmouth, NS Canada

    August 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  119. B.

    WHAT!!!!!! Why not free designer hand bags? I mean aren't they "essential" for people on welfare? I don't know how they afford them now – which from what I've seen standing in line behind them at the grocery store as they take their food stamps out of their $500 COACH bag!

    August 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  120. Kim in Jackson, Ohio

    Free cellphones? I thought you were kidding when I read this, and now I'm sickened that you're not...Simply outrageous. Somehow the justifications are ringing hollow on this one. How about a free landline at a fraction of the cost? Oh wait, that would mean that the unemployed would actually have to be HOME to answer the phone. Oh wait, that would mean the unemployed might have to wait a bit to get a message. Oh, wait, that would mean the unemployed wouldn't have the opportunity to get hopelessly hooked on the devices taking over the country. Oh, wait, they've got US paying for the whole danged program anyway!! What am I thinking?

    August 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  121. Michael in Albuquerque, NM

    This question is mostly hypothetical. As much as the cell phone providers, manufacturers and carriers would like to get government money,...it's not going to happen. They may act as if they are doing charity for the poor and needy. We all know that it would be a nonsequituer and a racket for the big boys to feed off of the tax payers yet again. In other words: NO!

    August 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  122. David

    Why is it that people that have everything can be so indignant about helping those in need. A cell phone may not be a requirement per se, but it helps someone to get by like a microwave or a tv....

    August 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  123. 2011eyes (Rube - LA)

    Who's idea is this anyway? If anyone wants to own things, let them work for it and pay for it. Taxpayers are probably already supporting these poor people on welfare.
    I am 73 years old and this year was my last year to work. Paid my mandatory taxes into social security and medicare and now the theives in Congress think they have the right to change the rules on the taxpayers. I say to politicians, pay the funds you owe to taxpayers before you even think of giving away so called free cell phones. It would really be another stupid decision by legislators if this were to happen.
    Jack, why not ask, 'what do Americans think of Congress' (5) week vacation hiatus'? I guess the coneheads need this time to come up with more ways to completely destroy this country.

    August 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  124. Fran from Virginia

    No. Why should they get one free when I don't have one. Actually, if that is their priority, they get money from the gov't already. They can buy it if they want.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  125. gretchen

    Is this a joke?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  126. Donald in New Mexico

    Should the government decide whether rich people get special tax rates?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  127. mike daves

    we spend a lot less on these phones than we do on corporate welfare

    August 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  128. Kevin

    What gets accomplished by this?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  129. PANTERA VAZQUEZ South Florida

    While I can understand the necessity of communication to all, and I can also understand that there are indeed many unemployed who need the help, somehow programs that attempt to help many often fall prey to mismanagement and/or waste. I am fortunate to have a job, I do not receive public assistance, yet for the last couple of years I have gotten that envelope in the mail that tells me I can apply for that free cell phone with 250 monthly minutes. I have chosen to continue to pay my cell bill, yet I question how many others in my same shoes take the offer they don't need? Therein lies one of the many potential problems with what originally was unquestionably a noble idea.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  130. Alan from South Dakota

    No I think someone has been smoking something! I have an idea for a communications plan for those that can't afford one. Make fire and give them a blanket and let them send smoke signals. Maybe if we all worked a little harder and worried more about what we could do for ourselves we wouldn't be in such a mess.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  131. Daniel

    By providing people on public assistance with phones, you give people a phone number to help in job searches. Now if only there a counterpart jobs program...

    August 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  132. Nico

    What about the 1,000s and millions of old cell phones that get put in drawers or donated, why can't there be a program to distribute those to poor people??

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  133. jack b

    well since giving away homes worked so well, why not cell phones? and while we're at it why not cars so they can get to work. i guess i'll aspire to being poor now. it sure beats getting beat up in the middle.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  134. SHERRY

    NO, NO,NO, Everyone should pay for their own cell phones. Government, we have enough problems stay away from this one!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  135. AD

    That is absurd. No, we absolutely should not support free cell phones to those who cannot afford them. A cell phone is not required to live.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  136. Raj

    The more government gives out the less motivated people are to be productive members of society. Haveing a cell phone, unlike, food and housing, is a luxury. Next the government will give out free 1 week cruise to those who can't or won't pay for it.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  137. Paul L.

    Classic that the Koch Bros.-backed Heritage Foundation is worried that poor people might get cell phones without Wall Street making a profit. Conservatives seem to think that unless the poor are suffering and dying they just aren't poor enough.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  138. Let's be reasonable

    250 free minutes is probably not necessary. But a cell phone that can make free emergency medical, fire, and police calls might be appropriate.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  139. Robin Glaysher

    No, and cell phone bill payers should also have the choice to contribute to the fund in addition to our bill, rather than be automatically charged for it. The contribution should be tax deductible.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  140. Jack

    If the lives of these people are actually helped and improved, then why not?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  141. Wanda McLeod

    NO> The government needs to stop spending the money of the working-class. If you aren't working you don't need a cell phone. That is a luxury!!!! To say they use them to look for jobs is HOGWASH. I am so tired of seeing the poor on medicare dripping in gold and tats and the latest clothes. We pay their bills and with their cash they live better than the poor working class!!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  142. Wendy Myers

    Are you kidding me? Is that what that universal service fee is all about? Look, I'm no conservative – I'm all for socialized medicine and I support the EPA and the Department of Education – but this is ridiculous. We teach our kids that you can't have a phone if you can't afford it yet we give them to adults that can't. Ridiculous.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  143. Maureen, Yukon Territory

    More civil rights have been added to the constitution and more will be added in the future – nothing stays the same forever – but cell phones as a civil right? Just silly.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  144. Jayson

    A cel phone is a convenience, not a necessity regardless of the fact that society has talked itself into thinking otherwise.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  145. Jordan

    Cell phones are crucial for people maintaining multiple jobs or looking for work, especially if they can't afford a landline (or a permanent residence in which to HAVE a landline). Like food stamps, the cell phone program is a relatively small cost that makes a huge positive difference in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.

    Jordan, Birmingham AL

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  146. Joseph Leff

    Jack, I thought cell phones are for use in prisons. My bad.

    Joe in Delray Beach, Florida

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  147. Pattie Moore Schmidt

    No the government should not decide this. The people who pay the cell phone bill should, oh wait that would be ME. The government should have no say in this at all.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  148. Ken

    Once again the government is pushing redistribution of wealth by funding free cell phones for people who don't pay their own way in life. I have to prioritize what I can and what I can't afford in my life. Nobody gives me anything that I didn't

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  149. Daniel

    I think the poor people should be allow to have a free cell phone. Every year we donate money to people overseas for people who are poor, starving and so on... we need to help out our own people first, start small and build them up as we build up our economy!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  150. Bill in Florida

    The Government can't decide on anything.This is the kind of stuff that needs to be cut.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  151. DebbyK

    I will say it is abuse in everything if you look for it, the cell phones are good to have for people that have no way of communicating. I know my sister who is disabled was able to call for help because she had the phone...you guys find a problem with everything..I pay a cell phone bill every month for 12 years and have no problem with the "EXTRA FEE" as you have pointed out !

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  152. Reginald Barnes

    I am a beneficiary of this program and I don't think it goes far enough. 250 minutes is not a lot, and the selection of phones is poor. All of my employed friends have unlimited plans and iPhones, and I am made to feel like a second class citizen because I have the Biden 250 plan and a cheap Nokia.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  153. Lisa, Dallas, TX

    Programs like this provide amunition to those looking to eliminate federal spending for the poor. Nobody needs a cell phone. Libraries are free and provide free computer use. E-mail is also free.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  154. Ralph

    I am probably one of the last 6 people in the US without a cell phone. Never had one; never missed it. Giving a free one to those who can't afford it is ludicrous and benefits mostly the Chinese labor market where they are all made.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  155. Sachin

    Either you are kidding or who ever is implementing this is an idiot. This is waste of taxes we are paying.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  156. JJ

    Keep it. Telecoms will keep charging the fee to consumers, so removing the service to the poor, would only increase the profits of the telecoms just like is happening with airlines right now

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  157. Jas

    No.......and not just for the reasons noted prior here. Call me suspicious but is there a more diabolical intent afoot in that we will have just that many more people we can monitor?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  158. Steven j Murphy

    Folks have to have a way to get in touch with you for jobs, doctor appointments and other services. There are no pay phones and folks have to have a way to communicate. Folks on food stamps have a very bleak existence. I don't begrudge them a way to communicate.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  159. Mary Ann

    NO! Telephone companies give a special land line rate that people can receive calls for about $9-12 month. Outgoing calls are charged at about 10 cents per minute. That's what people who can't afford a phone should do for emergency/job reasons. They need to limit their outgoing of course. Phones are not a necessity to survive.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  160. Jerry

    Free cell phones? The gov't is involved? My simple answer is NO>

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  161. Art Chalmers

    Along with free cellphones, medical care and food shouldn't we throw in a free car so these folks can drive to the many job interviews they have lined up with their free cellphones? Oh wait a minute, we better throw in a free computer and printer for updating that all important resume, and free alcohol so they can unwind after that stressful job interview. Come on, even active drug addicts, who we also subsidize, couldn't come up with a more ridiculous program !!!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  162. Teri Orlando

    Silly programs like this is why we are so in debt. Hey, I don't have an I PHONE – and I want one!!! Will the government give me one?? I wonder what kind of kickbacks someone got off of this 'cellphone' program!!?? Love ya Cafferty...

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  163. Parrish Jones

    First, these questions are simply a distraction. None of your respondents know enough about the subject to make an intelligent response. Ask someone who knows something and quit wasting my time.

    Second, there are probably a lot more factors involved in this whole issue than you stated so all you will get is visceral responses which do not count as reasonable.

    Third, quit wasting our time. Cancel the Caffertyfile File and do something truly informative.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  164. Josephine Libassi

    Sure, free cell phones, why not? This way they can stay in touch with family and friends while the rest of us are at work to pay for OUR cell phones.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  165. Chandler in Rockaway, NJ

    There have been subsidized phone rates for poor people for decades, so Granny could afford a lifeline. By asking this question, you are pandering to those who have the lingering impression that cellphones are still expensive luxuries, and believe that the poor should be left to die in the streets (as too many of them already are).

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  166. Scott

    WHAT?!?!!....free cell phones? I live in CA, the state that seems to give everyone everything and I didn't even know the government did this...the government should make sure everyone gets the basics...food, water, shelter, and health care, and even then it should be temporary. If you can't get your life together in 2 years time then we shouldn't help you keep it a mess. If you're too lazy to do better for yourself then why should I help you? I don't mind helping people who are trying to get back on their feet but I do mind helping the people who refuse to get off their couch. But free cell phones...are you kidding? never!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  167. Rich McKinney, Texas

    Jack back when you and Wolf were young people used smoke signals to communicate. I don't think a cell phone is a necessity for people on governmental assistance. Instead of giving them them cell phones to call somewhere looking for a job why not provide them a chauffer and limousine instead. That would put even more people to work. Better yet lets just give them a maid and a butler as well as a personal driver while the rest of us ride the bus.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  168. Tim in Alabama

    Sure! What the hell? Let's give everyone a free cell phone, only if you can promise me that they won't screen their calls! At least one of those employers that took a job application will call.....MAYBE!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  169. Tyler Martin

    Jack, I would like to see the fiscal conservative who said this government plan is "wasteful & unnecessary" go a day without his/her cellphone and see how successful they remain in life. "Ya gotta spend money to make money," right? Well, here's the chance to spend money to make a country come back to life again, folks. It's not about i, it's about U.S.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  170. clementine

    I know people need to be able to reach others by phone , but what happened to the phone booth . or should people on fixed income get the free phones also. \
    Killeen . Texas

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  171. Linda in Arizona

    I'm all for helping the poor, but that is ridiculous. First of all, nobody HAS to have a cell phone, but if you feel you need one, get a cheap service. I pay 12.32 a month for mine from Verizon. I don't yack on it. It's just for emergencies such as if I break down on the road. I think anyone could afford that much, don't you?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  172. John Santos

    If I can't afford something I don't buy it; charge it; borrow money from a bank for it or steal for it. This is why this country is rapidly going down hill. Too many people feel that they are owed everything by the govenment. I earn my stuff! Its' time everyone else did, including the congress.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  173. Grace

    That's outrageous! These people in government who want this are crazy! They should have had their heads examined. Seriously. This country is being ruined in front of our eyes thanks to people like that.
    Stupidity has no limits.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  174. Bill from North Carolina

    It is absurd to continue to these subsidies. If you follow this train of thought, then we should also provide them a car so they have transportation and free gas. At the very least, take this money
    and put it towards food programs. That makes sense.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  175. Thumb from Texas

    Free cell phones are essential for people to look for jobs? Seriously?

    In that case, I would like a free tablet (with Wi-fi & 3G) so I can look for jobs online.

    I would like an Amazon Kindle so I can read virtual books.

    I would like a free MP3 player so I can reduce my anxiety.


    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  176. larry

    We can no longer (if we ever could) afford to make life easy for everyone. Why should anyone work when they will eat well, have a roof over their head, modern medical care, a tv, and now even a cell phone for doing nothing. And, they can do even better if they have several babies out of wedlock. I only wish this were a dream rather than reality in America.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  177. joseph m

    No not out of my pocket I got my own bills !!!!!!!let my government worry about serious issues like recession!!!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  178. Greg, Fort Lauderdale

    Sure, and let's give them a nice car to drive and gift certificates to go out for dinner and to got shopping at the mall. This is the most ridiculous idea ever. You can live without a cell phone. They did for hundreds of years and survived. And we ask why this country is in trouble 🙁

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  179. Sandy in Nashville

    Should business decided whether you have access to communication? To call 911, for instance? Government doesn't decide anything in this country, Jack. The people do. We ARE government, you know – of and by, not just for. Or at least that was true a few weeks ago. I think the Tea Party just demonstrated this is no longer government of and by the people. Yeah, I think the cell phone program is a good thing, and I surely don't qualify to get one. Well, not this week.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  180. Allen

    Yes. Like it or not, the Constitution gives government that right. Call home Jack, planet zoom zoom misses you.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  181. Steve

    Hell No!!! This is just another reason that people don't take jobs that they could be doing. Why work when everthing is given to them from the government. Their ancesters just went outside and yelled for each other. This and free insurance, food stamps, and help on rent and utilities, why work? It's time for people to be responsible for earning a living rather than waiting on hand outs. Maybe I should give up my phones so I don't have to pay for dead beats.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  182. Sully


    This is the first thing that should go. The argument that poor people can use cell phones to look for a job is crazy. People on welfare have no intention of seeking a job. It's a sweet deal, free rent, free cable tv, free cell phones and free food. Where do I sign up?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  183. Liberal

    Yes! It is a basic right! If not, then we can't make phone calls! Just because we can't afford a cell phone should not mean that we can't talk on the phone! This is a basic right! Everyone is eligible for one if their income is low enough to qualify. It is fair to everyone. If you make too much money, you can buy your own cell phone. Cell phones are a basic right these days!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  184. Bill in Texas

    No, and maybe not so many of the other handouts, politicians use to buy votes.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  185. LT

    I'd rather they contribute to Universal Health Care Fund.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  186. Tracy from MO

    Free cell phones...I have to pay for my cell phone,and if I lose my job...or dont have a job..I just dont have one...If they think a free cell phone will make it easier for people to get a job,it will actually make people more tempted to just sit on their butts and wait for another hand out

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  187. L.E. Maggio from Morgan Hill, California

    you betcha!
    I'm happy to help subsidize cell phones for my fellow Americans who have no other access to phones that they can afford. The elderly and folks with youngsters need to be able to communicate w/fam & friends and call 911 when they have an emergency.
    Only an old grumpy stingy person would not think this is appropriate. My time on earth is almost over and I want to help people who need it any way I can.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  188. Julie Bollinger

    What has this country come to that you are even asking such a ridiculous question? Of course the government should not decide if poor people get cell phones. What is next? Making sure poor people have television? Oh wait, they did that already with the DVR vouchers. This reckless spending with no concern as to whether or not the money is there or not has to come to an end soon.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  189. Ty

    Charlottetown, PE

    Despite what the technologically addicted might say, cellphones are not part of the bare necessities of life. They are a luxury that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for, especially now.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  190. Jon Thompson

    I'm all for helping the poor but this goes to far. How about we start focusing on getting people jobs, shelter, and food instead of worrying about getting a cell phone in their pocket.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  191. John Komar

    This will show my age, but I did just fine in life for many years before cell phones were even invented. In fact, I am one of the few people in the world who still doesn't have a cell phone and I don't miss it. Perhaps the government should provide free cable TV too. And while we are at it, what about free drinks at the local bar? Look, it's not fun being poor but there is only so much that the government can and should do.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  192. mh

    No! I am so tired of people not having to work hard to earn what they get. Maybe if we stopped enabling poor people they would start working harder and contributing to our nation's success rather than its debt. The fact that this is being considered shows how dire our future is.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  193. Dina Dahbany-MIraglia


    Job hunting is now done on the internet. Go to your local library.

    Anyone who wants a cell can buy one for $35 and get 35 hours.

    No, the Heritage Fdn is right. Wastful and holding another economic gun to our heads.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  194. chris h

    Are you serious congeress and hose are sitting there fighting over cutting difense spending cutting social security and medical coverage for the elderly, and the goverment is giving free cell phones to people
    this is ridicules this is anouther exsample of one of those political tie ins to bils that tend to spend more money on frivilous little things here and there to better there election chances, instead of sitting there oh no this is not necciary and bankrupting our country instead of giving out thousands and thousands of celphones goverment should do some thing that can help our economy invest in movement of space mining for all i care if it produces an lndustry that will create jobs instead of anathour reason to not have to work oh well govnt will pay for it

    wenatchee wa.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  195. Celeste

    These phones are not unlimited usage phones. They are limited to certain parameters. Nobody who could possibly afford a cell phone would want one. I am aware of my good fortune to be able to afford a regular cell phone, but just you get sick for a long time or run out of a job and have no car. We have structured our lives so that cell phones are almost a necessity. Try going without yours for a day. I am so sick of narcissistic spoiled brats running the economy, politics and evidently morals. You are bankrupt.

    Have a little mercy

    August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  196. calaurore9

    Are you crazy? Bring back pay phones and enclosed booths! I'm sick hearing creepy personal conversations. Plus the new Super Congressional Committee needs a place to change into their costumes.

    C. in Noho

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  197. RobH

    The idea of giving "free cell phones" to the poor translates into "we pay, they play." How much socialism can Americans tolerate? There are certainly other ways for the poor to find jobs, but cell phones is not the answer. Why should we have to pay for this when we're already paying so much in taxes that go into entitlement programs–I love the term "entitlement" because those who benefit from these programs have entitlement issues in the first place. Obama's socialism is becoming epidemic.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  198. Thomas Whatley


    Why would these guys go hunt a job. They have been trained by the democrats that no matter how much of my money has to be given to them for a vote it will be done. Why else do you think that they vote democrat? If you don't pay taxes or if you draw government support like this you should not be allowed to vote.

    J Whatley

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  199. David

    No, Cell Phones for the poor is not a necessity for people to survive. What we need to be spending money on is investing in Healthcare and Education, and get over spending on wasteful programs such as this.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  200. Kirk

    Jack, if the government gives free cell phones to the poor, there will suddenly be 90% of the country declaring themselves poor

    New York

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  201. Lynda in Kansas

    NO!!! A resounding NO! I work hard to pay my bills and a cell phone is definitely a choice. Not a necessity! People already can go to the library and get free internet. ANOTHER thing I PAY for. Maybe I should just quit working so hard and jump on the free wagon. What is wrong with the people in charge. It seems like the inmates are running the asylum. Before long I will be taxed and charged so much for the free things others get from my pocket that I will then need public assistance myself. Most of my third graders know that you can't spend more than you make. Why doesn't our government?

    ALSO. I wish people would quit thinking Medicare and SS are entitlements. I PAID for that too.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  202. John

    Jack , after seeing this cell phone story I'm leaning republican I have always voted democrat. Things are out of hand.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  203. Sharon Taylor

    No, not by our government. Cell phones should be given out, free, to everyone by the phone companies. It's in their interest that we have them. They used to charge for only the calls that actually connected. Now, with voice mail, every call is a connection, whether we actually talk to our party or not. No more busy signals, no unanswered calls. Every call results in a charge.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  204. Debopam Chakrabarti

    Absolutely not. It shouldn't be a Govt service. Furthermore why they need 250 free monthly minutes? I can understand if phone companies can pitch in without charging rest of us.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  205. Nancy M-New York

    Free cell phones are not a necessity. Amazing that at 64 I have managed for over 50 years to survive without one. I don't think I should have to pay for my 250 minutes per month and then pay for someone elses as well. Food, a roof over ones head is one thing. Convenience of a cell phone is another. Not a taxpayer's or governments responsibility.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  206. Texed

    Seriously??? This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. How about the government ending the concept of using the middle class as a piggy bank.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  207. merle quatier

    Yes there should be some sort of free cell phone for the poor because there are not no pay anymore. if our government want the poor people to get a job they need a phone. the phone company's are very rich it about time someone get something from them.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  208. Brian

    Free phone. Free to those who get them at our expense. Soon it will be free cars so they can drive to work. If they have income, a requirement, let them buy their own phone as I do.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  209. Sara

    I am so sick and tired of paying for bums.
    Why do I have to kill myself, put myself through school have $$$$$$ (yes, 6 figures) of loans and then have to pay for lazy people?
    Give aid to the disabled and people that work, not the ones that sit home and play video games or get their nails done.
    America's infrastructure is going down the drain, while we are wasting money on healthy individuals that do not contribution to society and it's advancement.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  210. farhana

    Are you serious? This shouldn't even be on their agenda. Millions of people are starving or having a difficult time paying their rent and taking care of their family. Honestly, giving them a cell phone is not going to make a difference. Instead of wasting all that money on something as useless as a cell phone, the government should increase the welfare funds and help these people find jobs, get an education, and put food on the table. This cell phone issue shouldn't even be a debate.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  211. Paulette from Syracuse, NY

    Free Cell Phone is a very imporant resource to our Seniors or perons on Disability or SSI. They can't afford convential phone for a simple 911 call due to a break-in, fall or medical emergency. These folks are spending long hours talking on end. We need to help them to be safe during these hard fiscal time.

    Find another group of folks to pick on!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  212. Kelly

    The main problem with the federal government is: WASTEFUL SPENDING. Everybody cannot have everything for free. That is one of the reasons why the United States has a $14 + trillion deficit. On the other hand, my sister is on disability, has very limited income, and cannot afford a cell phone. So, she has a free cell phone. I really do appreciate the idea of keeping in contact with her even though I live in northern Virginia and she lives in Richmond which is two hours away.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  213. Wesley Sheldrake

    I do not believe that I should be paying for people on Medicaid or Food Stamps to have a cell phone. A land line is plenty. Get out and work.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  214. L hunter

    "Free" cellphones are not "free," they are paid for by me and the rest of the taxpaying citizens of this country. I shell out enough money (taxes)for free programs as it is, not to mention the payment on my own cell phone bill. I'm sick of this.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  215. cali-mitch

    Sure, go ahead and give more free stuff away! It's not like our country is in debt trillions of dollars anyway.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  216. Glen

    Absolutely wasteful. More importantly than the content of this article would be where the program/ legislation initiated and who supported it. Not hard to believe given all the free programs, such as free meals in school for a lifetime. Only in the U.S! Temporary help should be available in bad times for useful programs, as that is a strength of a community, but that is very different than a lifetime of welfare.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  217. Nemo

    Well...have you SEEN the people on government assistance at your local grocery store??? I have! Men wear gold chains with big dollar signs, white sneakers and sport jerseys while shopping for cigarettes and booze, often arguing with the clerk about why food stamps wont cover such things. And women usually have foot-long nails, extensions and at least 4 kids at their side all the while TALKING on the LATEST model cell phone, which I did not get because it cost too much.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  218. Keith

    No!! I can't believe this is even a question! I am all for helping those in need, but this goes beyond that. I cringe at the grocery store when I see steaks, energy drinks, and candy in a shopping cart, and then the shopper pulls out a foodstamp card. I work 50 hours a week to survive, and I am buying someone else steak?? If that's the case, I dont want to pay for their cell phone too!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  219. Lucas

    Cell phone service is not a basic human right, but in this modern age it is a necessity. Parents need to communicate with their children, workers need to communicate with their employers. To say that taxpayers cannot afford to give the poor this necessity is absurd, considering the massive amount in lost taxes we suffer. This is not the time to cut services to the poor, it's the time to establish a more progressive tax code that obliges superwealthy americans to pay their fare share to the public good.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  220. Joy

    I was wondering when someone would say something about this...this scam came to my attention some time ago by way of a Facebook "friend" bragging she had scored several phones, from several different providers, for herself and her daughter – all free. I dropped the "friend" but have been thinking about it every month when my bill comes due! This is absurd.

    New Jersey

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  221. James DiMaio

    The electric company sends an envelope for voluntary donations for power which is a much greater necessity then a phone so why should we have to pay our cell phone providers to give free phones! What's next free computers to search for jobs and we pay extra on our for our internet to provide free internet for "the poor." Oh and maybe free cars and we can pay extra for gas so their gas can be free! No wonder this country is in such bad financial shape!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  222. DEAN

    yes they should decide, and they should decide to put a stop to it. there are too many people who want everything free. there's got to be a limit to all the freebies that working people pay for.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  223. Jon Thompson

    Compared to many corporate executives I am very poor. Can I get a free BMW?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  224. HD, Herndon

    Jack – the fund was created to ensure that phone service was provided to rural areas. The notion of lifeline communications is why the phone companies are mandated to provide 99.999% uptime.

    Giving everyone a free phone would allow emergency calls to 911, which should suffice. How many old mobile phones are currently in our landfills contaminating the ground.

    Can you hear me now?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  225. Mark

    If poor people need cell phones to look for a job, they also need transportation to get there so the govt should buy them a car too.
    No if you'll excuse me, I'm going into my garage and smash my hand with a hammer so I take my mind off this nonsense for a moment.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  226. Shantelle

    Giving a free cell phone to the poor does not free up funds for them to pay rent or search for jobs. If people are taking advantage of this service, I can bet those people also get their rent subsidized, and are not actively looking for employment.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  227. michelle in san francisco

    food stamps (often used for booze or cigarettes or drugs) subsidized housing and now free cell phones? why bother to look for a job...life is good.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  228. Trisha Davis

    Dear Jack,

    This program was started in 2008 under the Bush administration. I work with the disabled and the elderly. They can't afford a phone because of the fees and the cost involved. A give away again for big corporations.
    When you have a Prepaid phone you have to go to the store to pay every month. Most companies want you to sign a contract and then they pad the bill. I apply for these benefits. Not everyone gets them. You are making it sound as if Obama started this program. He didn't. It was under the Republican watch. T.D.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  229. regina Dwan

    absurd!!!! how are we ever going to get people to go back to work when we;re offering them all the things you work for for free.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  230. Ned Othman

    Let the critics put their cell phones away for a week . See if they continue to claim that cell phones are a luxury. Better yet, let them lose their jobs and give up their cell phones. Good luck... no/chicago

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  231. Trevor

    While I disagree with the program – it is not financed by your "taxes." It's financed by the pseudo-donation from your providers which is required by our government. In the end, you're providing a free service to many people who don't require it and definitely don't need it. However, will you cell phone drop if the program disappears? No, it won't. These companies know that you're going to keep paying the premium that you are currently in order to keep your service. In the end your cell phone bill won't go down. It will only remain the same. No system is perfect and although the intentions of this program are noble – they are abused. Much like any other public assistance program available within our nation.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  232. Ricky A (TEXAS)

    I am unemployed and I have a cell phone I pay the bill without help from anyone. Why should I pay the extra charge for someone else that is unemployed. Just another entitlement program that has comeabout with our current adminstration. Why don,t we just give everyone everything and we can get to the place in history our current adminstration seeks.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  233. Adrienne, Sarasota

    If the economy keeps tanking, pretty soon most of us middle class will be poor enough to get free cell phones, food stamps, medicaid, etc. Who will be left to pay for the free stuff then? Especially when the rich don't like to pay taxes.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  234. Roccy De Francesco

    where does it stop? today cell phones, tomorrow, free cars, free homes, free everything that people "might" think they want. There is a point where the people with resources and those who work will just quit,

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  235. Emanuel

    This year it's cell phones, next year the poor will be getting free cars so they don't have to ride the bus! Just another example of how the poor feel entitled to a lifestyle above their means and how the liberal government is stupid enough to buy into their cries.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  236. Jo-Anna

    They need cell phones to find jobs? No – this is nuts. Theoretically, once they GET a job – they will not meet the requirements to HAVE the free phone. Is it just me – or has some outerspace society put the kool-aid in the entire US water system?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  237. Mo

    NO. Having a cell phone is not a right and subsidies laziness. The government cannot keep giving away money of the working man to the lazy. Those who are in favor of giving away free cell phone should stop lobbying for this and start a chairty with their money, NOT everybody the public's. And what happened to "those who do not want to work for money shouldn't have any money"?. It worked for the reconstruction of the Jamestown colony and it would work now.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  238. Joey (Mrs. Steve) Mecham

    NO! We the people should not be giving anyone FREE PHONES. It makes me livid to hear these commercials offering FREE phones and FREE "Run-Around" chairs. If you need these things and can't afford it, then take up a collection from your own family.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  239. david

    This is a jawdroppingly stupid idea. I heard this the other day and thought the person who told me was surely joking. I think our nation's collective mind is mentally ill.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  240. Ever

    I actually received one of those free cell phones a while back.

    It's plastic, incredibly cheap, and has no function other than to make calls. So, no, it's not an iphone or whatever it is people think it MIGHT be.

    I don't support the program, cell phones really aren't necessary.

    I'll also add that I'm sick and tired of people thinking that just because my mother receives food stamps, that she's lazy or whatnot. She works 7 days a week, 8 plus hours a day. She is far from a "welfare queen".


    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  241. Teri Orlando

    Stuart, Virginia

    Silly programs like this is why we are so in debt. Hey, I don't have an I PHONE – and I want one!!! Will the government give me one?? I wonder what kind of kickbacks someone got off of this 'cellphone' program!!?? Love ya Cafferty...

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  242. Kathy, Dallas, Texas

    Good grief no! The argument that someone with a free cell phone could use it to get a job because we no longer have pay phones on every corner, reminds me of the argument that resulted in pay phone extinction. That argument... the only reason anyone uses pay phones is to make drug deals.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  243. ken

    Once again the government is giving redistributed wealth to people who have not earned the money on their own. I'm sick of our govt. picking who gets free services while the rest of us have to work and EARN what we want to have in our lives. All these lazy people who don't want to work for their income and rely on govt giveaway programs like unemployment, welfare & food stamps. I worked two and sometimes three jobs to support my family. I didn't get a free handout from anybody. I'm so going to VOTE OUT every congressman and senator who supports and votes for all these free giveaways to lazy people.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  244. Rachel

    I have absolutely NO problem with poor people obtaining cell phones; indeed, several of my friends have them. Since the cap on these phones is typically around 200 mins, those people I know who use them are very careful to not exceed that limit.
    What I DO have a problem with, however, is when one of these so-called services (ASSURANCE ARE YOU LISTENING?) calls me as often as they do, leaving prerecorded messages that I can "activate [my] free phone (the one I presumably ordered)." I did not order a free phone, I have no interest in their phone, have received at least 10 phone calls from this company and spoken with customer service reps and managers on at least 5 different occasions. I have gotten everything from instructions to ignore the phone calls to promises that they'd leave me alone. Obviously, none of that happens and I truly believe that: a) the amount of money this service has spent attempting to track me down is a major source of waste and b) I cannot be the only person experiencing this.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  245. Susan

    A cell phone is a want not a necessity like food and shelter. What is the goverment going to do next give us Ipods or laptop computers? Lets get back to the basics and cut all this useless crap out!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  246. Ramona

    why not one more free thing we pay for. a free cell phone...

    Current stuff we already pay for:
    Food Stamps
    Medical insurance
    child care
    Free and reduced lunch for children
    Energy assistance
    Grants for schooling
    A monthly allotment
    add this all up and they make more money than I do a month...go figure

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  247. Rick Bellendorf

    Although I believe in sharing and being generous, the poor are already receiving free or government subsidized housing, food stamps and Medicaid. I can't imagine that people like me have to pay extra on my cell phone bill to provide the poor with free cell phone usage to boot! I say nix the free cell phone program and let the government stick to governing.....not deciding which personal conveniences the poor should or shouldn't receive.

    Las Vegas

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  248. John Colorado Springs

    Knee jerk, NO. After thinking about it, yes, as long as they don't have a land line and with fewer minutes. After thinking about it again, they are already getting food stamps and welfare allowing them to buy alcohol and cigarettes, so why another freebie subsidize more alcohol and cigarettes. Final thought, back to NO.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  249. Leta A. Dally

    So we all pay a small fee so that others might benefit from having a cell phone. Big deal. The poor who get these are not getting IPhones but basic cell phones that allow them to reach someone if they are out and need to make a call. Have you tried to find a pay phone lately? They don't exist. I would like to know how many people could live with a mere 250 minutes of talk service.

    I get food stamps and Medicaid and live on a fixed income all because of the "Great Recession" that despite economists is NOT over. I had to take early retirement to have some sort of income. I pay for my cell phone but this is one tax that I do not begrudge. If it helps people, fine. No one is "living large" getting a crappy old cell phone and 250 lousy minutes.

    Stop being such a Scrooge!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  250. Ruth, Peshtigo, Wi.

    The cell phone would be a way to reach a homeless person about a job. Believe it or not, there are many people who do not have a cell phone and it is not a necessity of life. Who are all these people talking to anyway that's so important that they are on their cell phone while driving etc.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  251. Fernando

    The better question is why not pay a living wage to pay for one ?

    I am on social security and work part time security work earning less then $1800 a month and use my free plain jane cell phone with 100 minutes a month more then the motorola radio issued at work.
    Without this phone, there is no job. I think people may think these are Iphone type phones, they are not and no internet. 100-200 minutes a month, and since I cannot afford a home phone, this is it.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  252. Nolan

    Of all things we should be spending money on, we're spending it on cellphones? What about health care, homeless shelters, schools, and seniors? Some of my family and friends still don't have cellphones simply because they don't want one. Telecommunications has come a long way, to the point where you can talk someone for free online. Let's have our government do its job by helping people with necessities, not luxuries...

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  253. DebbyK

    PS...A phone is a necessity, what about the idea of a landline phone..in my state it is only 66minutes a month...come on people, why are we so selfish, the only way to get ahead is to help your fellow man..pray that you will never need a hand

    August 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  254. Virginia

    Just another example of our tax dollars being spent foolishly. I think it is important for poor folks to have medicare and food stamps but that has nothing to do with cell phones. PORK comes to mind.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  255. Derek

    Why should I have to pay more for my phone so that someone that can't one can get one for free. I had to wait to get a cell phone until I could afford one. I understand providing hard line services to those in need, but cell phones are a luxury, not a necessity.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  256. Mary in NC

    I'm just wondering when SOMEONE will be kind and give us, the MIDDLE class folks, the ones who seem to be paying for everything, something for free. I guess that's too much to ask, huh?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |

    I have heard about this free phone, and I think it is a giveaway that the government cannot afford, nor the american people should subsidize. Do you really believe that these poor people use these phone for only emergencies?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  258. John Shelton

    No. The Federal Government is giving away too much. People need to get off their butts and work. McDonald's, ditch digging, cutting grass. There are job postings in every Employment Office. Get off your butts because I am tiered for paying for your freebies. I am a middle class worker who lives modestly. If the government keeps giving freebies, then I'll go broke, before I am a senior citizen - just 14 years from now. Maybe then I can get freebies.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  259. Mike McCarthy


    The "Job Creators" who don't pay their fair share of taxes can put up public phones in the neighborhoods where they will be hiring.

    Or the poor can use a phone in their church, local library, etc. And if that doesn't work, then they can ask a friend to use their phone.

    You have to be kidding me. This idea is as nuts as our legislators.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  260. Christian, UT

    No one should have a right to mobile phone service. That said, I'm okay helping out the 'poor' with phone service, especially on a temporary basis. As with all welfare programs, we need to watch carefully for abuse and over-dependence.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  261. Jeff, MA


    If someone came up to me on food stamps and asked to borrow my cell phone, especially, for a job I would gladly let them. Using the Jobs though as an excuse for someone to have a cell phone to live for food and shelter is a NO, Work for a luxury like everyone else, this way it stops the abuse of these programs. The program has simply become a joke.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  262. Janet

    Cell phones are for those who can afford them. The govt is giving away free cell phones to the poor, but guess who's paying for it. Taxpayers dollars, as usual. Just like cable tv. If a person is poor and cannot afford cable, should we have to pay for that too? Absolutely not. On the local news last night, was a woman holding her free cell phone and saying how grateful she is to have it. Her fingernails were acryllic. Should taxpayers pay for her nails too? Bad enough my tax dollars are paying for healthcare, tuition, rent and food for illegal aliens. What's next? When this "poor" person uses her free cell to find a job, should taxpayers have to pay more so she can get a free car to get to and from work? Enough already!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  263. Larry

    Are you kidding me? Do people sit around and think of things that we can give away free? The answer to your question is NO the government shouldn't be involved but even more important is that there should be NO free phones given to the poor or anyone else. I don't think for a second that phones are being used to look for jobs as supporters say, because about the only way to apply for a job nowadays is online. Wait a second, here's a great idea. How about free computers and internet access for the poor. Are you kidding me?!!!

    Oxford, Mi

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  264. Gringo

    Dear Government: This is a mental health test. If you think the government should provide free cellphones to anyone, you are unwell. Please get well, Government. We actually need you, but only if you are able to become healthy again. Otherwise we will all get together and give our country over to Mexico to run it because they will be able to run things better than you are.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  265. james smith

    For those of you who believe that cell phones aren't necessary to live: try to live without yours for seven days. The ability to communicate wherever you go is a necessity for the poor given the kind of emergencies that low wealth people have to deal with the the wealthy and middle class do not. What if your old junker of a car breaks down on the way to work? what if your are injured and can't get to the phone? Lets stop looking at what people need to scrape by and start looking at what people need to advance in our world.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  266. Ray

    The government should not decide that the poor should get cell phones. Cell phones are not a need, I retired living on social security and cannot afford to pay for someone else's cell phone. Our economy is down the tubes we certainly cannot afford to buy something as unnecessary as cell phones!!! If our "leaders" in Washington want the poor to have cell phone they can buy them out of their own money
    not mine.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  267. Sue in Scottsdale AZ

    No, the government should not provide free phones to those people on federal aid!

    With the major government spending issues the country is experiencing, this should not even be a c onsideration. I do want my cell phone fees collected by the carriers to be used to provide these phones. I work hard to pay for my own cell phone; so should everyone.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  268. mike sey, Ottawa

    Just ask your kids, Jack, whether a cell phone is a necessity of life these days.
    Every time I turn around someone is offering me a deal involving a free cell phone. Can a poor or transient person even get a landline installed let alone one for less than a cell ? Isn't this just another case of the 'deserving rich and the undeserving poor' as A.J Liebling would have put it. Or better yet;'Horsefeathers swathed in Mink.'

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  269. Barb - Phoenix

    Just one more tax the Government slid rght by us. I have a land-line and pay 14 cents per month. Also, the illegals received these free phones too. Is this fair, heck NO.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  270. Stephanie Angelos

    No Jack...the government should not be allowed to force others to pay for cell phones for people who can't afford one. Where does it end? I'd like a pony but we can't afford one. It's a hardship for me and I know several evil rich people who have ponies. Fair is fair. If I have to buy my own pony, then I can't afford my beer and cigs.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  271. Cheryl

    NO to cell phones!! Having one is a privilege. NOT a right.
    This type of thinking is exactly why we are in this financial mess.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  272. Laura

    The cell phones are very helpful for the elderly or for anyone in case there is an emergency on the road or wherever it's needed for help.
    Republicans, stop the harassing of the poor and start investigating the
    money saving tax loopholes for the undeserving rich which I will reiterate once again, "corporate welfare, corporate welfare" which only benefits IT!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  273. Zach Weinberg

    I'm a democrat, and I think this is most absurd liberal policy I have heard. Th government's job is to help with services that the private sector cannot effectively provide for all our citizens (defense, roads, etc.), not to give poor people free money to make their lives a little easier. If you can barely afford to pay your rent, you don't need a free cell phone; you need a better job. It baffles me that after this whole debt crisis they're now providing more ridiculous services that people don't need and don't have any constitutional right to be given. And what's worse is that my cell phone goes to pay in part for this service. This is an abomination...

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  274. TellTheTruth

    No, having a free cell phone should not be a civil right.

    However, I believe I should have the civil right not to pay for someone else's "free" cell phone when I'm already struggling to pay for my own bills on fixed income.

    I'm all for helping those less fortunate than I, but there must be limits.

    A lot of services meant to help the poor end up being abused already: food stamps and gas cards (another program I do not appreciate paying for), just to name 2. What is the potential for abuse of these cell phones?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  275. Paulette from Syracuse, NY

    Free Cell Phone is a very imporant resource to our Seniors or persons on Disability or SSI. They can't afford a regular phone for a simple 911 call due to a break-in, fall or medical emergency. These folks are NOT spending long hours talking on end.
    We need to help them to be safe during these hard fiscal times.

    Find another group of folks to pick on!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  276. billie bryant

    Well, look at what all the free give aways have done to our country, ruined it. No way should cell phones be given away to anyone!!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  277. Annette

    Sure everyone should have one who might be in danger, AFTER our soliders phone bills are paid.,otherwise set up a free phones at the public library just like computer.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  278. Jackie

    I'm sorry, but I'm poor and I'm not paying for anyone to have a free cell phone because it's not a necessity, it's a luxury!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  279. Noelle

    People who are out of work can't afford a phone. If you are out of work and applying for jobs, you need a phone number to receive that call for an interview. If a potential employer can't reach an applicant, they will move onto the next job application. I am tired of "free" being a bad word. In Europe, many things are "free" like education and healthcare...and its better than ours. The people who hate "free", they are the ones who think they can make a buck off the backs of the disadvantaged. The rich get richer and the poor get free cellphones ripped out of their hands...

    August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  280. Charles

    "particularly wasteful and unnecessary,” adding that our society can't afford to give free everything to everybody.

    Sure it can, but of course some of us dont want to because it would mean giving up our private jets and summer homes. Besides who would we exploit if there were no poor people?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  281. Alyssa

    As struggling newlyweds, both of us barely out of college and thereby have student loans to pay back and are trying to attend a graduate school, our decision for our cell phones was based solely on what we can afford. We don't have the plans we would like to have, but we have what is good enough. I don't understand why I should be helping pay someone else's phone bill via an additional tax. There are pay as you go phones that are cheap and allow anyone to purchase a cell phone and enough minutes to meet their needs. Landlines still exist, and although they are not as convenient, it can be enough for anyone. Why tax the just making it crowd to pay for an a non-necessity for people who are considered by the government to be "poor"? Cell phones are not part of our inalienable rights.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  282. Karen ONeill

    I am healthcare proxy to my very sick brother who lives about 45 minutes away. He has esophgeal cancer, colon cancer and a seizure disorter plus a state sponsored cell phone. I need to speak with him every day to make sure he is coherent. If he didn't have his phone I would have to drive to his house and back every day. He never asked for the phone but I am glad he has it.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  283. Nate, Virginia

    Projects like this are the reason for our debt problem now. We spend too much money on small useless programs. Once they start the government program they never want to stop them even when it fails and go up in flames.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  284. Courtney, Virginia

    This is ridiculous. It makes no sense that cell phones should be free for the poor. They aren't going to use these phones to find jobs. They'll just keep living off the government like they've been doing for years. If we keep babying the poor then they'll never stop living off the government because they won't have to. No consequences, no change.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  285. diane dagenais turbide

    One of the problem lies with the fact that companies even when they are suppose to have some sort of a social conscience to pay into a government fund in order to offer better deals for poor people; when companies find a way to pass the bill to other consumers then it shows we have lost our moral compass This is why the tax code needs to change! A healthy Democracy exist from people having access to information! Being poor does not mean losing access to information to make decisions regarding our democracy and regarding people's individual realities when having to get out of poverty! And a healthy democracy means we as individuals and companies must be authentic as a society when we do participate in helping the most vulnerable to get out of poverty while providing them the means to have access to informations!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  286. Mark P

    bad choice on speding for one, unsightly costs at someones expense for 60 mins free phone service on a so – called -helping hand
    fee's are outrageous just to part-take in offer, which really is taking advantage of the handicapped, surely free doesn't construe a 30. phone bill for 10 mins over the so-called free phone service, if needed a pager might be a better way to go where a select few can monitor distress calls from the hdcped an elderly, perhaps paying for vol fire depts and security may be whats needed to aide in the professionals out there looking for work due over stressed depts and other cirrcumstances, deep issue on cell phones could never understand when my girlfriends phone bill for 50 unlimited use is far cheaper to use then the so called special endorsements of AARP an other services supposedly backing this plan, mils can be reverted to where it counts instead of sent to an automated service which cant seem to understand your selection of need from its limited an brief list of help issue. Send the funds to job placement schooling or neighborhood resource centers where perhaps each can accompany those in need, hope didnt stray from issue cell phone with these big name operators are way too expensive to think Americans will have to cover 50 for 10 minutes of service if can possibly be understood in request for help or if they could even charge or upkeep the phone in a place wheres its easily accessible

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  287. tracy

    This is absolutely absurd! Does our government sit around thinking of useless/wasteful/absurd ways to spend our tax dollars? Is this for real? After yesterday's debacle by our politicians departing for vacation CREATING a deficit in revenue by causing the FAA to shut down, leaving thousands without paychecks and without means to stimulate the economy.i.e purchasing power! Is there any end to the idiocy of Washington? Apparently not, according to them, If you can continue to live in a foreclosed home, without paying your mortgage, it makes sense you also need a free cell phone.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  288. Ralph Wasson

    Free cell phones for the poor and the rest of us pay for them?
    What's next? Free digital scales for drug addicts so they don't get shorted when they sell their food stamps for crack?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  289. Karen Miles

    Absolutely not! I do not own a cell phone, for the sole purpose of saving money. I also don't have HD TV or a cable box in every room. I actually have rabbit ears on one TV. I'm am middle class, own my home, contribute to my 401k – (while my job lasts), pay my health care, drive a 13 year old car. I live within my means. I think I have chosen the wrong route.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  290. J

    I could see the argument for providing a land line. A phone in your home provides 911 accessibility, and can help return calls for all those jobs to which you've applied.

    But a cell phone is a luxury, and one that should definitely not be subsidized.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  291. Burton

    This is just another giveaway that our politicians brag about giving to people at our expense but of course the politicians say they did this for them. The knuckleheads running this country are only about goring the middle class and the wealthy with stupid taxes so they can say they gave people free cell phones and numerous other things for free. Why would they ever vote out the hand that gives them so much and asks so little in return other than their vote. It's always about whose ox gets gored and its usually ours.

    We are rapidly building a nation of have nots that don't pay taxes but want to put those that do in debt paying for them. To think that our 8 1/2% unemployed really want to work when they continue to get food stamps and unemployment is a joke. Maybe 2 or 3% really want to get back to work. How do you create jobs when the working people are paying for the so-called underpriveleged their cells, food, with an income and they don't want to work?.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  292. Gwen

    Jack, I've worked in social services, and I do feel compassion for those who need help to get back on their feet in our society. However, I've seen so many take advantage of "the system" by figuring out ways that they can receive and keep on receiving "hand outs" rather than "earn their own way" that I've become "jaded!" These same people find ways to afford cigarettes, and junk food (adding to our nations healthcare expenses). It's a vicious circle! Yes, people need to have the availability of a telephone sometimes and this could be done at the very place where the cell phones are handed out for free. Install and monitor some "cheap" pay phones and let folks come in and use them, but cut out the freebies!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  293. Michelle Grant

    I do not doubt for one moment that low income individual take advantage of every hand out available. Some even go to the extreme and begin to abuse it, like WIC and Food Stamps. There are low income beneficiaries selling their benefits to make a profit. However, times are hard and well, they have to do what they have to do. Free cell phones will certainly be no exception, there are many benefits to providing cell phones to low income individuals, such as calling for help or giving a way for their children to reach their parents at all times. But it will get abused and we will all have to pay for it. The Government’s intentions are good, but they do not strategize effectively when implementing these programs.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  294. MCainn

    Regarding cell phones for free to the individuals on food stamps is an insult. Give them cell phones when I HAVE TO PAY FOR THEM?
    I don't think so. Make that a BIG NO!!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  295. Ralph

    Social programs such as welfare were intended only to be temporary. Providing unprivileged people with free cell phone service will only perpetuate this exorbitantly flawed system. I wholeheartedly agree that social programs are imperative, but our leadership needs to learn the distinction between fairness and inequitable.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  296. Amanda in Oregon

    Jack.. I am amazed each and every day hearing of these money guzzling, ridiculous programs.. it never ends.. We live on a tight budget, have no credit cards, house or car payments.. we live within our means. And that means we can not afford a cell phone.. so do we have to stop working so hard and scrimping and saving and paying taxes.. just to get all the free stuff. I am disgusted.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  297. Joan Crowley

    We need to scale back all of the "welfare" programs, food stamps, housing vouchers, aid to mothers with children, free lunch/breakfast programs at schools and cell phone service. I know personally two families who receive some of these services who do not need them. The mom's live with wealthy boyfriends who support them and their children, while they accept Federal Assistance. Stop all of it. Go back to providing surplus food to families. Get rid of the food debit cards that are used for junk food.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  298. Brigitte

    Here is reason number 2065 why this country is in such a messed up financial criss. I know several people who have these free phones from the government and have their own cellphones as well. The government is always giving away stuff to the wrong people. The government is scammed by so many people it is a disgrace. Growing up in the inner city i know so many people who for generations have done nothing but get over at the expense of people like me. Had working tax paying people. I am 50 years old and have always had a job from the age of 15.. I have only been unemployeed once in my life for a short time. At that time I went into the military because I did not like not having a job. Mean while us everyday people have to break our backs paying for lazy people who don't want to pay their way in society. I am not talking about the hard working people who lost their jobs because of the economy but thiose people who all their lives keep saying I ain't doing nothing let the government pay for it. I am sick of it when can I get my free ticket? And let's not leave out the rich who don't really care about anyone else but themselves and their bank accounts. God Bless America because we are starting to look like the idiot's that everyone really thinks that we are.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  299. Carl Davis

    Yes, Jack, Free phones for people that really need them. Not for the ones that don't want to work . Same with Welfare and everything else that is free. Isn't there enough abuse and waste in all of these programs. Every free program needs to be evaluated and reformed.
    Lake Charles, Louisiana

    August 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  300. Zhuddy Mugogo

    Government to give poor people cell phone? come on now when is it going to stop? this is playing in to Rusian comment that USA is living beyond their means, what next is government going to give out again? find me a wife or husband if i dont have one?

    Z Mugogo- Bethlehem PA

    August 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  301. Rose, York, Pa

    I am all for providing a means of communication for the low income elderly, but there is no justification for welfare recipients needing such a luxury. What's next free internet and cable tv? No wonder able body welfare recipients aren't motivated to become self sustaining when these type of luxuries are just handed to you.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  302. kimberly @ washington

    No, that's completely waste. Phone provider charge us different kind of taxes to help them contribute to that program.

    People already got different kind of "FREE STUFFS" from government. If they want to have a cell phone, they have to pay for their own

    August 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  303. Robert Watkins

    No, the government should not decide if poor people should get free cell phones.

    What happens when they get in an accident in an autmobile when using there cell phone will the government pay to get there car fixed.

    What happens when they commit a crime on the cell phone, is the government going to pay for there defense attorney bills, etc.


    August 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  304. Anita Lay


    This sounds bad, but I think it's an entirely appropriate use of the Universal Service Fee funds. Many poor people have inadequate access to telecommunications services, particularly in rural areas, and this program ensures that they aren't cut off from the rest of society. Frankly, we could use more programs like this.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  305. Donna

    Absolutely not in favor of FREE cell phones for poor. I believe in helping the truly needy, but this is rediculous!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  306. Dee in New Paris Ohio


    The government should do nothing to stop poor people from getting free cell phones!

    That is, unless the GOVERNMENT (us) is paying for the phones.

    Then maybe there should be some requirements.

    Otherwise, the government should butt out!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  307. Margaret

    This is a benefit to society, since it will help low income people find jobs. Some are too poor to have a phone or have no permanent home and need these phones. How can you get a job without a phone number? I support this program.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  308. Mary Helen (Haskell)

    Hey, Jack – suppose I could get them to pay for my cell phone? And, by the way, what do I look for on my bill to see if I AM being charged so I can call and have it removed?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  309. Rich

    Charitable donations are always nice but, this is another case of "We the people" throwing money into the air without knowing where it's going to land. I'm thankful I'm not poor, however if I had a choice between donating $5 per month so someone, somewhere may have a cell phone or lowering my cellular bill by $5, I would lower my bill. How do we distinguish between those who can't function without assistance and those who refuse to function?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  310. Marcie from Houston

    Why not? They are already get free healthcare, reduced housing, a huge tax credit, and food stamps. Its ridiculous the free ride you can get and feel entitled to!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  311. alan

    Jack, i have a little personal experience with the idea that people use the phones for looking for jobs. a family member in the fifty year old age bracket that does not like to work has used this service many times. It is a crock. i and many people on this site work for a living a pay our money for goods and services. This country is going down with this everything should be free for those "who cant afford to pay". why, because the rest of us have to pay to enable these leaches. and yes i am talking about my own family. We have to wise up here, when did it become a right to have a free phone and free internet? Free to the one who does not pay for it, but not the people who finance them.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  312. Laurie

    Rather than succumb to the "us vs. them" mentality in this question about cell phones for the poor, why aren’t' we more upset that a fee that has been levied on cell phone companies is automatically being passed on to consumers? This seems to be the case whenever a communications company or utility is asked to contribute to a program that will benefit a segment of the public (e.g., poor, disabled). The fee should remain on THEIR balance sheet, not passed on to us. And if they don’t think it’s fair for them to have to contribute, they can take it up with the regulators, not create resentment on the part of the those who foot end up footing the bill for those less fortunate.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  313. Pamela

    Another thing to get our blood boiling. Enough is enough. The government is paying our rent, utilities, mortgage, health care, food and now the phone bill. It pays to be poor, the less you have the more the government pays. It doesn't pay to have money. They buy you a car, washer and dryer, pay for child care, pay you to go to sc hool. no wonder we are where we are – broke and in debt.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  314. Ron - Middletown, DE

    No one deserves a free cell phone, except our fighting men and women. You want one, ENLIST !! What makes sense is Term Limits for our Congress and Senate.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  315. Victor - Rhode Island

    Just another waste of tax payer money! Stop the craziness! End this program immediately! If you can't afford something it's not your right to get something for free. Save up for it like everyone else does!

    December 14, 2011 at 9:27 am |