If you’re already queasy about the role played by the IRS in assuring your compliance with Obamacare’s numerous mandates, you may need to lie down after reading this column. It turns out that our Beltway masters are not content with their new authority to peruse your tax returns and medical records. They will also authorize state agencies throughout the nation to send government inspectors to your house if a “home visit” is deemed appropriate pursuant to HHS guidelines ostensibly meant to “create social and physical environments that promote good health for all.”
According to the title page of the document announcing this program, HHS has the authority to fund such visits by virtue of the Social Security Act “as amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [Obamacare].” It describes this metastasis of HHS power as “an unprecedented opportunity … to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children.” But the program also provides unprecedented opportunities for violations of your privacy, your right to educate your kids as you see fit as well as your Constitutional rights under the Second and Fourth Amendments.
The HHS defines an “at risk” child as one who resides in a family that includes people who have served in the Armed Forces, pregnant women under the age of 21 (regardless of marital status), users of tobacco products, children with low student achievement, and a long list of other such miscreants. The formal name of this boondoggle is the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, and it was created as part of the train wreck that President Obama, congressional Democrats and the legacy “news” media insist on calling the “Affordable Care Act.”
But the cost of MIECHV won’t seem very “affordable” to anyone living outside of Planet Beltway. To assure that we all abide in environments that it judges conducive to “good health for all,” HHS will give $224 million to the state apparatchiks who will do the actual snooping. But, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, it’s a good investment: “Home visiting programs play a critical role in the nation’s efforts to help children get off to a strong start. Parenting is a tough job, and helping parents succeed pays big dividends in a child’s well-being and healthy development.”
If the notion that you require the supervision of bureaucrats to raise your children properly seems presumptuous, don’t forget that that Commissar Sebelius has views on the role of government that diverge from those held by most Americans. During the debate over Obamacare, for example, she arrogated the power to suspend the First Amendment rights of the health insurance industry while Congress considered the bill. But, getting back to her statement about the efficacy of MIECHV, it contains an ominous hint concerning one of the program’s potential targets.
Since government schools were “fundamentally transformed” from centers of learning to disseminators of socialist propaganda, more and more parents have turned to home schooling. Our Washington masters, like the slave holders of the 19th century, consider genuine education a threat and they have long sought a way to eliminate the right of parents to educate their own children. Thus, the HHS visiting program may “help parents succeed” by forcing them to send their kids to public schools, probably based on pretexts involving socialization and corporal punishment.
It goes without saying, of course, that the bureaucrats conducting home inspections will regard any house containing a firearm -- including those which have been legally purchased -- as the very antithesis of the kind of “social and physical environment” in which an “at-risk” child should reside. Indeed, prevention of child injuries is one of the areas that will receive special scrutiny by the agencies who receive grants under this program. They will certainly consider any household headed by a Second Amendment advocate who “clings to his guns” as a dire threat to child safety.
There can be little doubt that the Obamacare inspectors will attempt, using specious bureaucratic argle bargle about the increased potential for child injuries in homes containing guns, to undermine your constitutional right to bear arms. These government goons will probably be armed, as it were, with lists of registered gun owners and could very likely demand to inspect their homes to assure that the firearms in question are stored in a manner consistent with HHS guidelines concerning child safety. Such inspections will open another can of constitutional worms.
The Fourth Amendment begins thus: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated …” Doesn’t the very concept of MIECHV and its “evidence-based home visiting” program fly in the face of this bedrock constitutional principle? If someone from a government agency can arbitrarily inspect the homes of law-abiding citizens simply because they contain legally-obtained firearms, are any of us truly secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects? The answer is obviously “no.”
Yet MIECHV is moving forward as if the Fourth Amendment and your right to privacy didn’t exist. Not that this is anything new for the Obama regime. For them, the permanent establishment of an all-powerful nanny state trumps all other concerns. Your personal privacy means little and a yellowing document in the National Archives means less. Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have answered as follows when a woman asked him what sort of government the Constitutional Convention had created: “A Republic, if you can keep it.” One begins to fear that we cannot.