What Next: TBD

The Failing Lifeline for Low-Income Americans

A Reagan-era program designed to provide phone access for the poor has hardly changed in 40 years.

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Episode Notes

The federal Lifeline program was intended to bridge the gap between Americans who could comfortably pay for phone and internet service and those who couldn’t. But in the midst of the pandemic, Lifeline is falling woefully short.

How did a program meant to help connect low-income Americans with phone and internet service ended up making them second-class digital citizens at the worst possible moment?

Guest: Tony Romm, senior tech policy reporter at the Washington Post, author of “How the Federal Lifeline Program Failed Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic


About the Show

Every Friday, Slate’s popular daily news podcast What Next brings you TBD, a clear-eyed look into the future. From fake news to fake meat, algorithms to augmented reality, Lizzie O’Leary is your guide to the tech industry and the world it’s creating for us to live in.

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  • Lizzie O’Leary is the host of What Next: TBD, Slate’s show about technology, power, and the future. Previously, she created and hosted Marketplace Weekend. She has reported for CNN, Bloomberg News, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She is also a contributing writer at the Atlantic.