WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2017 — Two out of three veterans, active-duty military personnel, and members of military families oppose limiting the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Lifeline cellphone and wireless program for low-income households, according to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey conducted for the Alliance for Freedom. Released shortly before Veteran's Day, the poll raises serious concerns about the expected FCC vote on November 16th on sharp reductions in access to Lifeline for vets, seniors, the disabled, and others.
“This poll makes it clear that veterans, active-duty military personnel and their families have real concerns about the Federal Communications Commission taking cell phones and broadband away from veterans,” said Public Polling Policy Research Director Jim Williams. “There are not many issues where Trump and Clinton voters are strongly in agreement and in roughly the same numbers on an issue, but this is one of them. The bipartisan nature of the support and the intensity of that support has the potential to create a real uproar.”
The FCC is scheduled to vote next week (November 16th) on a proposal advanced by Chairman Ajit Pai to impose a “cap”-like budget on the Lifeline program, even though it currently only serves a fraction of eligible veterans and other individuals. The controversial Pai recommendations also would eliminate the continued involvement of the largest providers of Lifeline wireless service, all but shutting down that aspect of the program. Several groups have expressed the concern that the steps advocated by Pai would have the effect of killing or effectively killing the Lifeline program.
Available online at http://bit.ly/LifelineVets, the PPP poll was conducted November 6-7 and includes 1,087 veterans, active military/military family members. Highlights include:
- 82 percent believe that “actively serving U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families are entitled to all benefits for which they are qualified, including the Lifeline program providing cellphone and broadband access.” This included 80 percent of Trump voters and 84 percent of Clinton voters.
- 73 percent think it is unfair “to 'change the rules' so that a veteran or their family member who are eligible for a federal program such as Lifeline during a period of active military service see their access to the program curtailed or cut off altogether after their period of service ends.” This included 72 percent of Trump voters and 76 percent of Clinton voters.
- 68 percent think it would be unfair “to 'cap' or impose a budget limit on federal programs – such as VA benefits and Lifeline – that might deny access to the programs for eligible actively serving U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families.” This included 65 percent of Trump voters and 74 percent of Clinton voters.
- 66 percent feel it would be unfair “to limit Lifeline cell phone service providers in such a way that it might end or significantly reduce access to Lifeline for actively serving U.S. military personnel, veterans, and their families who qualify for them either during or after their time of service to the nation.” This included 63 percent of Trump voters and 71 percent of Clinton voters.
Data provided by the FCC indicate that about 12 percent of all Lifeline beneficiaries in the United States are veterans. Out of a total population of 10.6 million current Lifeline subscribers, that would amount to roughly 1.3 million veterans.
Nearly three out of 10 (27 percent) of the veterans/active-duty military personnel/military families surveyed indicated that they would qualify now or have in the past qualified for Lifeline by virtue of their enrollment in various federal programs, including SSI Disability, Medicaid, home heating assistance, or Head Start services for children. This eligible group included 25 percent of Trump voters and 28 percent of Clinton voters.
About a quarter (24 percent) of those surveyed are aware of the Lifeline program.
The Public Policy Polling survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent for the full sample. Sub samples will have a larger margin of error.
The Alliance for Freedom is a Virginia-based group advocating for limited government and a free market.
SOURCE The Alliance for Freedom (AFF), Arlington, VA
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