One More Example of How Politicians Are Hypocrites

No president since JFK issued more executive orders than Ronald Reagan. Republican complaints about Obama’s use of executive power ring hollow.

CANADA - JUNE 19:  Summit Of Industrial Countries In Toronto On June 19th, 1988,In Toronto,Canada  
National Journal
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Matt Berman
Jan. 28, 2014, 8:28 a.m.

Tues­day night’s State of the Uni­on will be marked by ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders. Which makes sense: Pres­id­ent Obama can’t get most of his agenda through Con­gress, so he will do what he can to pass small parts of it — like a min­im­um-wage in­crease for fed­er­al con­tract­ors — uni­lat­er­ally.

Pre­dict­ably, Re­pub­lic­ans aren’t thrilled by the work-arounds. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, called the min­im­um-wage or­der a “con­sti­tu­tion­al vi­ol­a­tion” Tues­day and said “we’ve nev­er had a pres­id­ent with that level of au­da­city and that level of con­tempt for his own oath of of­fice.” Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, R-Ky., said Sunday that Obama is wrong to think he can just pass his agenda without go­ing through Con­gress. “Ron­ald Re­agan didn’t think that and Bill Clin­ton didn’t think that,” Mc­Con­nell said.

Mitch Mc­Con­nell is mis­taken. No pres­id­ent since JFK has is­sued more ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders than Ron­ald Re­agan. And Barack Obama isn’t on track to top him.

Here are the ba­sic num­bers: Up to Jan. 20, 2014, Barack Obama is­sued a total of 168 ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders, in­clud­ing 147 in his first term. George W. Bush is­sued a total of 291 ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders, in­clud­ing 173 in his first term. Clin­ton is­sued more than Bush, with 200 in his first term and 364 over­all.

But Ron­ald Re­agan is the cham­pi­on here. Re­agan is­sued 213 ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders in his first term and 168 in his second, for a total of 381. And while not all ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders are made equally, Re­agan’s or­ders wer­en’t all fluff. One of them — EO 12333, is­sued in 1981 — gov­erns most of the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency. “It is a sweep­ing man­date that out­lines the du­ties and for­eign-in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tion for the na­tion’s 17 in­tel­li­gence agen­cies,” per Mc­Clatchy. That or­der still serves as the primary au­thor­ity for most of Amer­ica’s in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions.

Re­pub­lic­ans are likely to spend a whole lot of the next 48 hours de­cry­ing Obama’s “pen and phone” gov­ernance. But just re­mem­ber: No one did it bet­ter than Re­agan.


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