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Millions Improperly Used Phone Subsidies

The Lifeline program-begun in 1984 to ensure that poor people aren’t cut off from jobs, families and emergency services-is funded by charges that appear on the monthly bills of every landline and wireless-phone customer. Payouts under the program have shot up from $819 million in 2008, as more wireless carriers have persuaded regulators to let them offer the service.

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