Help wanted re executive order analysis

imageOne of the things making the rounds on my “real me” Facebook is a poster claiming that Bush signed off on many more executive orders than did Obama. Since the poster is obviously out of date (not to mention the fact that it compares Bush’s 8 year term to Obama’s 1 or 2 year term at the time), I went to Wikipedia and found some interesting numbers.

Over eight years, George W. Bush issued 291 EOs, with the largest number in 2001 (presumably because of 9/11). That’s an average of slightly more than 36 per year. In the course of five years, Obama has issued 167 EOs, or an average of almost 21 per year. Under that metric, Progressives are absolutely right that Bush was the bigger offender.

It seems to me, though, that a numerical argument is a red herring. I’m under the impression — and I’m asking you, please, to correct me if I’m wrong — that conservatives’ objection to Obama’s EOs stems from the nature, not the number. That is, Obama is using EOs to void legislation, rather than as directives to effectuate legislation. In doing that, he’s unconstitutionally usurping Congress’s power (although Democrat Congress people seen fine with waving — or waiving — their prerogatives goodbye).

Please let me know if I’m right or wrong, and please direct me to articles with more information about this subject.

(And yes, I know I’m being lazy “crowd sourcing” this question, rather than doing the research myself. The thing is that I’ve learned from experience that you guys, individually and collectively, have extraordinary funds of knowledge. I’d be crazy, therefore, not to tap into those funds.)

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  • Ymarsakar

    The numbers don’t matter. It just shows that valerie is more in charge of Obama’s admin than Obama, and that Bush was busy doing something about Islamic Jihad.

  • Earl

    I think the real objection is that Obama is using the executive order to “legislate”.  That is, when he can’t get Congress to do what he wants, he effectuates his will by issuing an executive order… accomplish something that is NOT within the Constitutional powers granted to the executive.
    He didn’t “void” the legislated deadlines for various parts of Obamacare – he merely changed them.  However, the actual “law” that was passed provided for a particular deadline….and the executive has no Constitutional power to change the law.  He did it anyway.
    The saddest thing in all of this is that the legislative branch has acquiesced to their Constitutional power being usurped by the executive branch, almost without protest.  The cure for this usurpation is a political, not a legal, one…..the Constitution says that the President should be impeached.  But the Congress has not the courage to take it on.
    We are sliding toward a tyranny.

  • lee

    I saw this chart from Rachel Maddow making the rounds on Facebook, and I knew it was missing the point. So, I went back and looked at the more prolific issuers of Exective Orders. Of course, FDR and Wilson, but also up there were Coolidge, Harding, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. The ones from the latter group tended to have a LOT of waivers for examptions from Civil Service Rules, retirement rules, etc. for specific individuals. There were also a not insignificant number for honoring dead: Coolidge had five dealing with Harding; there were several for House Speakers, and other fairly high officials who died. Another popular one was establishing parks or changing management of federally held land. (Those would be interesting to peruse…)
    When I started to go through the Won’s and categorize them, I realized that I would really need to know a LOT more about constitutional law. Though I assume that ones that modify, change or some other way the US Code would probably be considering “legislating.”
    Of course, the Won’s very first Executive Order was the one that helped him seal his records. (It doesn’t come out and say so, but the effect was as such.)
    This would be an INTERESTING project, and it might take awhile…
    (BTW, you just KNOW that Wilson and FDR went absolutely wild with Executive Orders that usurped the legislative role of Congress.)