During his final State of the Union, President Barack Obama addressed a series of issues, including his recent announcements of executive action on gun control. The Supreme Court is currently taking a look at whether the president has been going too far. Well, has he?
This is a Reality Check you won’t see anywhere else.
“What you’re not paying attention to, is the fact that I just took an action to change the law.”
That was President Obama explaining why he decided to take action on immigration because Congress wouldn’t act. The president may regret those words now that the Supreme Court is taking a look at whether his executive action on immigration went too far. It’s not just immigration where the president has been issuing large numbers of executive actions, he has also announced dozens of executive actions on gun laws over the past three years.
“No matter how many times people try to twist my words around – I taught constitutional law, I know a little about this.”
So many people have jumped on these kinds of statements, saying that Obama has no regard for the Constitution and that his executive action demonstrates that he acts more like a king than a president. In fact, lots of claims on the internet insist that Obama has issued more executive orders than any president in recent history. Is that true?
According to the American Presidency Project, Obama has signed 226 executive orders while in office compared to 291 for George W. Bush, 364 for Bill Clinton, 381 for Ronald Reagan and even Jimmy Carter who was in office for only four years signed 320 executive orders.
Presidential Executive Orders
Jimmy Carter 320
Ronald Reagan 381
William J. Clinton 364
George W. Bush 291
Barack Obama 226
“The truth is, even with all the actions I’ve taken this year, I’m issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. So it’s not clear how it is that Republicans didn’t seem to mind when Bush took more executive actions than I did,” stated Obama.
However, that’s not the full story. While Obama has issued fewer executive orders than many other presidents, that’s actually a word game.
Obama has made prolific use of memoranda despite his own claims that he’s used his executive power less than other presidents.
He signed 33% more presidential memoranda in less than six years than Bush did in eight. He’s also issued 45% more than last Democratic President Clinton. When these two forms of directives are taken together, Obama is on track to take more high-level executive actions than any president in seven decades.
So what you need to know is that if it feels like Obama is writing law from the Oval Office far more than his predecessors, he is. Obama, actually is the most since Harry Truman.
However, the other truth is that executive actions aren’t just an Obama presidency issue, they have become an executive issue. One where more and more Americans actually want a president to rule by edict and don’t see the value of checks and balances.
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