The PJ Tatler

Ohio 'Obama Phone' Use has 'Exploded' In the Last Year

Swing state. People getting government subsidized cell phones, which they call “Obama Phones” and explicitly connect to their vote in November. A million of these “Obama Phones” are on the streets in Ohio alone, double last year’s number.

All coincidental, I’m sure.

The program in Ohio cost $26.9 million in the first quarter of 2012, the most recent data available, versus $15.6 million in the same timeframe in 2011. Compared to the first quarter of 2011, the number of people in the program nearly doubled to more than a million.

Growth could cost everyone who owns a phone. The program is funded through the “Universal Service Fund” charge on phone bills — usually a dollar or two per bill — and the amount of the fee is determined by the cost of this and other programs.

A growth of $100 million in this program could result in an increased fee of a few cents on the average bill, according to officials from the agency that administers the program. The total cost of the program nationwide was $1.5 billion in 2011, up from $1.1 billion in 2010.

Growth in the program is fed by the 2008 decision to extend it to prepaid cellphone companies, which get up to $10 every month that someone is subscribed. The number of cellphone companies offering the service in Ohio grew from four in 2011 to nine currently, with seven more awaiting approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Obama’s just redistributing cell phone service, from people who are paying for it, to people who aren’t.

Obama’s policies have cost thousands of coal miners their jobs in Ohio. But Obama’s policies have also put nearly a million “free” phones into the hands of Ohioans.

You do the math.

This is how you buy an election despite espousing policies that have killed jobs in a vulnerable industry in a swing state. Romney can pose for photos with all the laid off coal miners in the state every day from now to November 6. There are just more Obama Phone users than there are laid off coal miners in Ohio.

The Obama Phone users need the coal miners to keep mining, to power their “free” phones. But what are the chances that they’ll make that connection on their own?