Just what White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon meant when he recently suggested “deconstructing the administrative state” is unclear. To critics, he would gut the whole superstructure of social and environmental safeguards, starting with the Environmental Protection Agency (which, say news reports, may face a staff cut of one-fifth). But regardless of Bannon's meaning, the relentless growth of the administrative state is a reality that we can't escape.
To be clear about vocabulary: The “administrative state” and “the regulatory state” are essentially one and the same. It is a gigantic enterprise. Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank, estimates that the costs of complying with federal rules and regulations totaled nearly $1.9 trillion in 2015, equal to about half the federal budget ($3.7 trillionin 2015).