14th February 2013
Apparently Obama was not the first to trade phones for votes.
A Factcheck.org piece in 2009 debunked the notion that free pre-paid cell phones offered by one carrier under the program were “Obama phones” by explaining that the goal of “universal service” actually had its roots in legislation passed by FDR that was influenced by a deal between telecommunications companies and President Wilson. It concluded with the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that they be called “Wilson Phones” instead. That’s not such a bad idea: It nicely sumps up the notion that whatever the initial justification for any government program, it’s pretty likely to morph over the course of 100 years into a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle with a tenuous connection to its original purpose.