ObamaCare: The Infinite Bureaucracy Act

Last week, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) had the staff of the Joint Economic Committee work on a flowchart of ObamaCare that has made the rounds of the blogosphere, thanks to its impossibly complicated representation:

It turns out that Brady may be a master of understatement.  According to Politico’s Gloria Park and Fred Barbash, no one can figure out exactly how many new agencies ObamaCare will spawn once it comes into effect.  In fact, the Congressional Research Office can’t figure it out either.  The language of the bill leaves open the possibility of an infinite string of new agencies and bureaucracies:

Don’t bother trying to count up the number of agencies, boards and commissions created under the new health care law. Estimating the number is “impossible,” a recent Congressional Research Service report says, and a true count “unknowable.”

The reasons for the uncertainty are many, according to CRS’s Curtis W. Copeland, the author of the report “New Entities Created Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

The provisions of the law that create the new entities vary dramatically in specificity.

The law says a lot about some of them and a little about many, and merely mentions a few. Some have been authorized without any instructions on who is to appoint whom, when that might happen and who will pay.

Those agencies created without specific appointment or appropriations procedures will have to wait indefinitely for staff and funding before they can function, according to Copeland’s report.

Ironically, the CRS report intended to rebut the arguments made by Brady and others in crafting diagrams such as the one above.  CRS wanted to say that there wasn’t enough certainty in the number of agencies, panels, and committees to put them into flowcharts with connecting lines.  Like Nancy Pelosi once argued, the CRS report says that we can’t know what’s in ObamaCare until the government rolls it out.

That in itself is a big, big problem.  It seems clear that Congress just authorized a self-perpetuating bureaucracy, one that can expand on its own and make determinations far outside of the boundaries Democrats promised during the ObamaCare debate.  And if that’s true, then it is equally true that the claims made on the cost of administering ObamaCare had no real basis in fact.  How can one estimate a cost for a bureaucracy that is entirely undefined in size and scope?

Brady probably didn’t create the chart above as a best-case scenario, but that may be indeed what it is, at least in terms of certainty.