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Belmont Club

‘Obama Phones,’ ‘Obama Meals,’ and Other Objects

September 27th, 2012 - 4:56 pm

If you wanted a free government phone, what would you look under? Your best bet is to search an “Obama Phone.” A website actually calling itself “Obama Phone” offers it; explaining that while, yes, it really isn’t an “Obama Phone,” you’ve come to the right place:

The term “the Obama Phone” has been all around since the day Barack Obama became the president of the United States of America. Many people think that Obama is giving free cellphones to the poor in order to redistribute the wealth of rich people. Since then two groups are mudslinging at each other.

It’s true that government provides free cellphones to the poor and disabled people. But the Obama part is not true as Obama didn’t initiate this program. It’s on the run since the administration of Reagan. This program has two parts: one is called the “Link-Up” which provided free landline connection to the poor and the other is called the “Lifeline” which provides waiver on telephone bills. These two programs are simply called “Lifeline” when lumped together.

This service is provided by government approved companies. The three major companies are Safelink Wireless, Assurance Wireless, and ReachOut Wireless.

It is quite clear that people have been calling the service an Obama Phone for some time. To convince yourself, Google “Reagan phone” or “Clinton phone” or “Universal Service Phone” and you will get nothing. On the other hand, Google “Obama Phone” and you will get all the relevant hits. Since the Page Rank algorithm measures “link popularity,” it is highly unlikely that “Obama Phone” is the consequence of that “racist” YouTube video. The phrase has been around for a long time. Someone — perhaps the author of the cited email — came up with the expression, and it stuck probably because it resonated.

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