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The obligatory latest viral video making the rounds in connection to the 2012 campaign. Behold, the “Obama-phone” voter:

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However, the program this woman is referring to was started under President Reagan in 1984 and expanded in 2008 under President Bush, the Washington Examiner reports:

The video of an Obama supporter bragging about having an “Obama phone” has gone viral on the web, but where do these “free cell phones” come from?

The program is called Lifeline, established in 1984, originally created to subsidize landline phone service for low income Americans, funded by government-collected telecommunication fees, paid by consumers.

In 2008, the program was expanded to support cell phones which quickly escalated the cost of the program. In 2008 the program cost $772 million, but by 2011 it cost $1.6 billion.

A 2011 audit found that 269,000 wireless Lifeline subscribers were receiving free phones and monthly service from two or more carriers. Several websites have been created to promote “free” government cell phones, including the”The Obama Cell Phone” website at Obamaphone.net.

The Lifeline program was an entitlement which began under a Republican administration and, like most programs, has continued to expand over the years as circumstances and technology changes.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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