I think that it kind of depends what level of sophistication you want, the time that you wish to spend analyzing, and the granularity of the approach.
I think that if you want to just listen to talk radio and it's internet ilk, you could suppose that it is a unitary function, led by a small cabal of folks at the federal reserve, the trilateral commision and any number of sundry other nefarious organizations. You might not be wrong, but you probably aren't all that right and your analysis might be a shade on the unsophisticated side.
Nope, I think that you have to stand back and ask what makes them "elite". Simply put, it is a function of access to the table. Whether one likes it or not, government in an Industrial/De-industrial society such as ours is the arena where, for the sake of analogy, representatives sit around a table and figure out how to share the pie of resources (either physical, intellectual, or human) that are available to the society in general.
Now, first things first, I am going to spend a brief digression here disabusing you of the idea that a democratically elected government is in charge of this role. It hasn't been the case ever, and recent revelations about campaign finance and the Clinton foundation show that access to the table is strictly limited to those who can pay for the privilege.
I cannot and will not make a claim to know the intricate details of who is at the table and at what position. You have to read a lot in fairly dry journals and news accounts to discover the make up of the table, but simply put, I would just follow the money.
The elite are elite not because of their honesty or intelligence or hard work, nope. they are there because they have figured out the way to exploit the tax revenues and the workings of the federal government and its functionaries.
- Defense industry, check
- Pharmaceutical industry, check
- Medical Industry, check
- Educational Industry, check
Now, in the past, the government created a branch to control a particular part of the American experience and keep things under control. The lords and masters of the industries being thus controlled, feeling this control to be an imposition, promptly lied, bullied, and bribed their way into effective control of the regulatory system that was once their control.