Steve Forbes: Giving lower-income families a hand up will help America compete

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People in need don’t want a handout; they want a hand-up that will enable them to improve their circumstances and lead more productive, successful lives. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is giving workers, students, and families the hand-up they need to compete in the connected 21st-century digital economy. Created in 2021 as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and administered by the Federal Communications Commission, the ACP gives eligible families a monthly discount of up to $30 to pay for broadband service, along with an initial, one-time grant of $100 they can use to help purchase a computer, laptop or other electronic devices that will enable them to connect to the internet. Extending this effective program, whose funding is set to expire in the next 18 months, should be a priority for the 118th Congress. Online connectivity is an absolute necessity for modern families. Without it, kids can’t do their homework or attend online classes, wage earners can’t look for jobs or work from home, and ultimately, the US will fail to keep up with our global competitors if we fail to connect all Americans. The benefits of extending the ACP far outweigh the costs. The program yields an undeniably positive economic impact, experienced by 14 million households and climbing. When the government supports programs that empower Americans to lift themselves up, we all benefit.  

[Steve Forbes is chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media]

Giving lower-income families a hand up will help America compete