Conservatives were dead set against executive orders for eight years, calling them an imperial act and unconstitutional overreach by President Obama. So let’s compare his orders to those of Trump.
To begin, let’s take a look at the conservative view on the executive orders of President Obama.
As NBC News reported in late January of this year: “For the past eight years, Republicans skewered President Obama as an ’emperor’ who acted outside of his ‘legal authority’ for the executive orders he issued from the Oval Office.”
The well-respected non-partisan research think tank Brookings Institution reported in 2014 that “Claims of tyranny, overstepping authority, and unlawfulness have been batted around by frustrated Republicans,” regarding Obama’s issuance of executive orders.
In January 2013 conservative website Forbes reported that:
However, on the other side of the fence, Forbes reported on the response of conservatives to Obama’s orders:
Republicans and conservatives have complained loudly lately that President Obama has been resorting to non-democratic and unconstitutional governance; imperiously ignoring the so-called “will of the people” by issuing a cascade of new executive orders. According to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Mr. Obama is acting “like a king” by issuing his recent executive orders on gun control. Conservative author and radio talk show host Mark Levin contends that Obama’s executive orders are “un-American” and even “fascistic.”
Trump railed against Obama’s executive orders in 2012 using his favored form of communication – Twitter:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2012
He went on in 2015 to vow to undo all of Obama’s executive actions if elected:
If elected, I will undo all of Obama’s executive orders. I will deliver. Let’s Make America Great Again! https://t.co/u25yI5T7E8
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2015
And then, during a 2016 appearance on NBC‘s “Meet the Press,” he conceded that he might follow Obama’s lead in issuing executive orders – in typical Trump fashion blaming Obama for leading the way.
Asked if he would issue any executive orders if elected, Trump responded: “I won’t refuse it. I’m going to do a lot of things.” Referring to Obama, he added: “I mean, he’s led the way, to be honest with you.”
Comparing Obama and Trump Executive Orders
Having noted all the above, how exactly does Trump’s presidency stack up when compared to Obama’s when it comes to executive orders?
USA Today reported on February 1st of this year that: “In his first 10 days in office, President Trump issued 20 executive actions, more than any incoming president in the modern era. […] Obama, for his part, issued 18 president actions (executive orders, memoranda, national security directives and proclamations) during his first 10 days in office.”
On February 10th of this year the Independent reported that: “Donald Trump has issued more executive orders and presidential memoranda in his first two weeks than former President Barack Obama – or any President since Franklin Roosevelt,” adding that “The Republican has signed eight orders and 12 memoranda so far, which signify one of the highest uses of power that the President has. Mr. Obama signed one less – 19 – over the same period.”
Yesterday, Friday the 14th of February of 2017, the Independent reported that Trump has overtaken Obama on executive orders.
As the chart below reflects, by the end of March 2017 “barely two months since his inauguration, Trump had signed a staggering 23 executive orders.”
These have included a plan to repeal Obamacare, since shelved, his ill-fated travel ban on all migrants from a number of Muslim-majority countries, and a pledge to pull federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that accommodate illegal immigrants.
By contrast, Obama had signed only 18 such orders by the same point into his first term as president in 2009.