An analysis of both the frequency of executive orders signed, and the content of those executive orders reveals that Republicans are wrong. President Obama is not behaving like a dictator.
The myth that President Obama is a dictator was the subject of this week’s Politicus Podcast.
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Here are the number of executive orders signed per year by every president since Reagan:
As you can see, President Obama has signed the fourth fewest executive orders per year of any president since Ronald Reagan.
The total number of executive orders signed from President Reagan to President Obama:
However, presidential abuse of power isn’t just defined by the number of executive orders signed. The most important thing is what the executive orders actually do. For instance, in June of 2007 President Bush signed an executive order that banned federal funding of stem cell research while also declaring embryos to be human beings. In contrast, President Obama signed an executive order in November 2013 ordering federal government agencies to prepare for the impact of climate change.
Both executive orders technically only applied to the executive branch, but Bush’s order had the impact of virtually halting embryonic stem cell research in this country. Millions of people who could have been helped by potential cures and breakthroughs won’t be because George W. Bush wanted to throw a bone to the evangelical Christians in the Republican Party.
President Obama signed an executive order designed to increase federal employment among people with disabilities. President Bush signed an executive order that sidestepped the Geneva Conventions so that the nation could use indefinite detentions and torture.
It’s clear that the intent matters more than quantity when it comes to executive orders. A full reading of the executive orders that President Obama has issued while he has been in office reveals a president that has been very respectful of his executive powers and the constitution. If Republicans want to see a president make policy via the executive order, they need to take a look at George W. Bush.
The myth of dictator Obama is just a cover story that is designed to both terrify conservatives while washing away the record of the imperial presidency of George W. Bush.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association