January 11, 2016 by Chris Kite
Once again, the right is furious with Obama. He’s a tyrant. A dictator. He’s overreaching. He is bypassing congress. He is out of control.
But, all hyperbole aside, he really hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary when it comes to issuing executive orders.
How so? First, let’s look at the number of executive orders by President.
As of December 18, 2015, President Obama had issued 227 Executive Orders*. That sounds like a lot, right?
By comparison here are all the Presidents, their total executive orders, and the average per year, since 1901:
Teddy Roosevelt – 1,081 or 145/year
William Taft – 724 or 181/year
Woodrow Wilson – 1,803 or 225/year
Warren Harding – 522 or 217/year
Calvin Coolidge – 968 or 242/year
Franklin Roosevelt – 3,721 or 307/year
Harry Truman – 907 or 117/year
Dwight Eisenhower – 484 or 61/year
John Kennedy – 214 or 75/year
Lyndon Johnson – 325 or 63/year
Richard Nixon – 346 or 62/year
Gerald Ford – 169 or 69/year
Jimmy Carter – 320 or 80/year
Ronald Reagan – 381 or 48/year
George HW Bush – 166 or 42 per year
Bill Clinton – 364 or 46/year
George W Bush – 291 or 36/year
Barack Obama – 227 or 33/year
That’s correct. President Obama is averaging less executive orders than any President since Grover Cleveland (who last left office in 1897!).
Okay. So maybe his orders have been more “extreme” and more of an overreach because of their significance. Not even close!
– Remember the Emancipation Proclamation? That was an executive order issued by Abraham Lincoln.
– Ulysses Grant created dozens of Indian Reservations.
– FDR issue an executive order to start the Works Progress Administration (WPA) a key part of the New Deal. It built over a half million miles of roads, 125,000 bridges, and 8,000 parks!
– FDR also issued an executive order to start the internment camps. Talk about taking away freedoms!
– Harry Truman desegregated the Armed Forces.
– Eisenhower desegregated schools by executive order.
– Lyndon Johnson issued the Equal Employment Opportunity order.
– John Kennedy issued an executive order to create Affirmative Action.
– Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush both issued immigration related executive orders.
So really, by comparison Obama’s executive orders have been less severe in both action and quantity.
*Executive orders are issued by number and the numbers that have been publicized only go thru Executive Order 13715. But even if each measure of “gun control” President Obama comes out as a separate order, his place in history isn’t going to change significantly.