Think Tank Express: Elimination of FCC Lifeline programs hurt violent-torn Chicago neighborhoods the most

Everyone knows by now how much President Trump goes on and on about Chicago violence, tweeting about it every chance he gets.

Well, one of the tools that could be used to help residents of poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Chicago and elsewhere is about to get “weed-whacked” by the FCC.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced he was putting the brakes on the Lifeline program, which provides a low-cost subsidy for Internet access to residents who fall 135 percent below the poverty line, according to ReCode. The program relied on net neutrality rules, which Pai is seriously considering rolling back or eliminating altogether.

Recently, Pai halted nine internet providers from participating in the program, as Pai is reviewing these programs in order to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse at the federal agency.

Two years ago, the FCC passed net neutrality rules in a party-line vote, prohibiting internet providers from favoring one service over another. If the rules are overturned, Netflix, for example would have to raise prices if they have to pay more to reach users at top speeds as Recode points out. Republicans are against the rules, saying government has no right meddling in private business affairs, even if it means keeping prices low for consumers.

The elimination of the Lifeline program could have ramifications for poor communities hit hardest by gang violence and other problems. Some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods are also some of the most poorest, including Garfield Park, Austin, and North Lawndale neighborhoods on the West Side and the Englewood, Roseland, Brighton Park, and Back Of The Yards (New City) neighborhoods on the South Side. Much of the city’s homicides come from these areas alone.

Other communities in the Chicago area where there is a large percentage of residents in poverty include Waukegan, North Chicago, Maywood, Robbins, Harvey, Ford Heights, and Gary, Ind.

If President Trump is serious about ending violence in Chicago – it’s going to take more than “sending in the feds” to cure this crisis. And the one tool meant to help poor residents make connections to job training, networking, mentoring, and other services – now risks getting cut in the name of “eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse”.

But we all know the President is all talk and no action – except when it comes to only benefiting himself and his cronies, not the real people who need it. And of course, the next time Chicago has ten murders in a day, Trump will go back on Twitter, telling us “what a disaster Chicago is”.

Not as much as the Trump Presidency has been so far.