Since the Presidency of Reagan the official platform of the Republican Party towards reigning in Federal social engineering programs has been the elimination of Progressive dominated agencies. This well intended dream has gone without realization. Regretting his inability to cancel them, Reagan commented FedGov agencies are harder to kill than a vampire.
In the Hamiltonian view, Reagan found them difficult to overcome because his actions were built on incorrect assumptions about the basis of their power.
The political strength of Technocracy lies not, per se, in how much money is allocated to Bureaucracy in the Federal budget. Instead, the power of Bureaucracy to resist political attacks lies in the lack of executive control over FedGov Bureaucracy.
As originally intended by the founders, the mission of the Civil Service was nothing more than to implement, without question, the orders of the Executive so long as those orders were legal and/or not contested by either the Legislative or Judicial branches.
Passed over a century ago, the Pendleton Act began the decades long process of breaking this chain of command between the President and Civil Service by shielding Federal workers from layoffs initiated by a President. Subsequent acts further increased their immunity from the will of the other three branches and the American electorate to the point where the Federal workforce has grown into the unaccountable Frankenstein monster it is today.
Whenever the Civil Service has had to deal with a Republican President, the Civil Service uses the political infrastructure of its Progressive allies to pressure the Executive into expanding Federal Programs as much as possible.
Should a Republican President not expand government, or do so at a rate unsatisfactory to Progressives, the Bureaucracy hunkers down, undermines Conservative programs as much as possible, and waits for the next Democratic President to give the Bureaucratic machinery free-reign to again tyrannize the rest of America.
Whenever the Federal Bureaucracy senses budget cuts – even the moderate cuts proposed by Reagan and the somewhat more ambitious, but quickly abandoned, reductions of the Gingrich Speakership – it uses its full political connections to drive back the attempt.
The Federal workforce fights budget cuts as fanatically as if it was a fourth branch of government. It does so because it is the Fourth Branch of government.
The optimal strategy to defeat the Progressive Federal workforce is not to eliminate agencies or slash their budgets, but to legally restore the spoils system over the entire Federal workforce, excluding the military, Judiciary, and Federal law enforcement.
When executive sovereignty is restored through the restoration of the spoils system the independence of FedGov bureaucrats is broken even if their department budgets are left unchanged. And when their independence is broken so too will their ability – as a branch of government – to resist budget cuts to, or, outright elimination of, Federal departments.
The benefit for Conservatives in restoring the spoils system without, initially, accompanying them with net reductions in spending comes through the radical changes the spoils system brings to the incentive structure of working in the Federal Bureaucracy.
Since Wilson and FDR, the Civil Service has been immune to the consequences of Presidential elections. When Progressives lose the White House, Civil Service personnel remain. Hence, the politics of the Federal government workforce (excluding the military and Federal law enforcement) is overwhelmingly Liberal despite Republicans having won the White House more often than Democrats post-WWII.
Under a renewed spoils system, the professional Civil Service would be swept out of power whenever a Democratic Presidential candidate goes down to defeat. Without positions in D.C., unemployed Civil Servants would be unable to undermine the policies of a Republican President when he is free to fashion a truly Republican Civil Service. Nor would unemployed Bureaucrats be of use to the rest of the Progressive infrastructure (such as non-profits and academia) outside Washington.
Even when a Democrat wins the White House, the Civil Service would be incentivized to greatly fear angering the public with radical initiatives lest those initiatives drive down the popularity of a Democratic President and jeopardize not only his reelection but also the jobs of Progressive Civil Servants.
Tying the fate of the Civil Service to Presidential election results through a revived spoils system would deal a devastating defeat to the New Deal Bureaucratic state an bring to an end the undeserved status of the Federal Bureaucrat as a ruling class accountable to no one.