The One Fact About President Obama’s Use of Executive Orders that Debunks Nearly Every Republican Lie

pres-obama-executive-orderLast January I wrote an article where I put together some stats about executive orders as it relates to President Obama and some of his most recent predecessors such as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In that article I pointed out (by using indisputable facts) that the right-wing nonsense about Obama’s “abuse of the executive order” was absolutely ridiculous. While Republicans have continually pushed this fear-mongering rhetoric about Obama abusing his power via the executive order, the fact remains that he’s on pace to issue fewer executive orders than Reagan, Clinton and Bush.


In fact, when I crunched the numbers in January, for Obama to equal the number of executive orders that were issued by Reagan, he would almost have to serve an entire third term as president.

So if President Obama is “abusing his power,” then what the hell did “Saint” Reagan do?

But when you look at Obama compared to all other presidents and how often they used executive orders, his record is even that much more impressive. The truth is, President Obama is on pace to issue the fewest number of executive orders since Grover Cleveland was president between 1885-1889.

Right now President Obama averages 33.1 executive orders per year compared to Bush (36.4), Reagan (47.6), Nixon (62.3), Eisenhower (60.5), and not a single president between Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman averaged less than 100 executive orders per year.

Oh, but I know the typical Republican comeback to this. They’ll simply claim that it’s not the number of executive orders that were issued, but what he did with them. I will admit that’s a great comeback – because it’s impossible to actually prove. The amount of “abuse” claimed by either side of the political spectrum within each executive order is clearly subjective. So it’s natural that Republicans would dismiss the number he’s issued because they can’t dispute the fact that he’s on pace to issue fewer than any other president in well over a century.

Republicans can’t dispute that he’s issued far fewer executive orders than his predecessors for the last 100+ years, so they go with the subjective and impossible to prove rhetoric that even though his number of executive orders are low, he’s still abused his power based on what’s in them compared to previous presidents.


That’s simply what Republicans do. When reality doesn’t support their propaganda, they just try to change reality and hope for the best.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • djallyn

    Republicans don’t care about facts, and most people can’t tell the difference between a fact and an opinion these days.

    • strayaway

      Democrats don’t care about the Constitution. No matter what excuses Democrats make, only Congress can change laws.

      • Johnl.102

        Wrong, that is exsactly what the constitution says EOs can do, change existing law. What they can’t do is create new law. No one cares you don’t see it that way.

      • Rodrick McMillan

        You’ve never even read the constitution… One thing you will never understand is the constitution was written by Progressives

      • Jonathan Perrott

        Please define Progressive and explain in what sense the Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention were Progressives. Really, I’d love to hear it.

      • strayaway

        Oh? I cant find the wording in the Constitution that says “EOs can…change existing law”. I would appreciate it if you pointed out that wording to me. I can’t even find mention of executive orders. My copy just says, “ALL legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives” and then goes on to spell out that the powers granted to Congress include the power to “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Did you catch the word “ALL”?

      • Kyle Walker

        Just like Reagan and H.W. Bush?

      • strayaway

        No, not like Bush or Reagan or Bush. Instead of trotting out stupid liberal talking points, do a little research. Congress passed an amnesty bill that Reagan signed. There was a glitch he passed by executive order to make some part of that amnesty bill work better. Also, Democrats promised to seal the border in return. They lied.

        The only thing I’ve read about the Bush amnesty was that Obama is claiming he let in 1.5m illegal aliens whereas most sources claim 70,000-120,000 were given amnesty – a far cry from 5 million.

        For what its worth, I don’t think either of those amnesty related executive orders were constitutional either but they paled in comparison with Obama’s attack on the rule of law.

      • Kyle Walker

        I have done my research on both sides of this debate. I have heard the liberal and conservative talking points and formed my own conclusions from that research. I side with the fact that the majority political scientists and analysts agree that all three actions are similar. Reagan had the fortune of acting on a law that was recently passed a year before his action, H.W. Bush and Obama did not, but they still acted within the last amnesty law to be passed before their action. All three issued an executive action where Congress failed to act or refused to act. Republicans have promised to seal the border in the past as well, would their failure not also be a lie on their part? All politicians lie and fail to live up to their promises regardless of party affiliation, it is a sad but simple reality.

        As far as the Bush amnesty, his staff grossly overestimated their own numbers at the time and that is where your numbers originate from. They claimed that his executive actions would let in 1.5m illegal aliens when in reality they only helped 70,000-120,000, a miscalculation on their own part. So he also lied about how many his action would help. You are not in the wrong to call out Obama’s use of a miscalculation and the overestimation’s from Bush’s administration, that was his mistake for parroting numbers that were false at the time they were constructed decades ago.

        I do not believe the previous executive orders pale in comparison with Obama’s as we have yet to experience the results of the latter. When we have statistics reporting how many have been effected by this recent action then I believe we can properly form a conclusion of this recent executive action. I also do not believe that this executive action is an attack on the rule of law. By that logic then all executive actions taken by past presidents have been attacks on the rule of law regardless of that president’s political affiliation, and would be grounds for prosecution of former presidents who are still alive. The past two presidents before Obama statistically issued more executive actions in an average year that Obama has during his terms.

        I’m not saying I support Obama’s actions, I’m just saying, his critics arguments on this issue aren’t very strong when there is considerable evidence of the contrary.

      • strayaway

        The “majority political scientists and analysts”? Who signs their pay check? Article 1, Section 1 is succinct. Why do you need them to tell you that what it says means something else? And what about the magnitude of Obama’s overstep. He is rewarding 4-5M lawbreakers with working papers to take a wider variety of US jobs. My loyalties are with US workers and our middle class taxpayers. Yours seem to be with these foreign scabs and their cheating employers’ profits.

        It isn’t just Democrats. Establishment Republicans also want to provide cheap foreign labor to their corporate patrons.

        Not all executive actions violate the law. Presidents are charged with executing the laws of Congress but not changing them as Obama defined his action. It doesn’t matter how many executive actions were exercised by the last two president as long as they were used to carry out congressional legislation. If presidents sign orders hiring, purchasing, or pursuing wars declared by Congress they are following their oath. When they, on the other hand, change, disregard, or make new legislation, they violate the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8 spells out powers granted Congress, not the president, to legislate naturalization and protect our borders. Make that “uniform rules of naturalization” -not one set for people who follow the rule and another for people who choose not to.

      • AlecMN

        I assume you had the exact same poutrage when then last forty presidents did the same thing.

      • Dianne Hornick

        “Poutrage”! I love it!

      • strayaway

        I wasn’t around that long. However, FDR putting Japanese-Americans in prisons and Lincoln putting his detractors in prison by executive order were stains on our history. I don’t remember any president in my lifetime twisting and changing the law the way Obama did on Nov. 20. Setting the issue of immigration aside, why are you an apologist for fiat rule instead of the rule of law?

      • Rob Bailey

        Impeach away, Princess. Your (dumb) ass is showing AGAIN…

      • strayaway

        Your inability to say anything intelligent is showing again. Rule by executive fiat would suit you well. Now into your fold sheep. Your shepherd knows what’s good for you.

  • Dave L

    Republicans had no problem with GWB and his executive orders, or his “signing statements” for that matter. They wanted to push more and more power to the President, apparently thinking they had a lock on the Presidency with their abuse of the voting system and coziness with Diebold.

    • strayaway

      Please cite Bush’s executive order that you think comes closest to the magnitude of changing a law requiring that most illegal aliens be deported with a new law rewarding four million of them with working papers to be able to compete for a wider variety of jobs.

  • McKenzie Freeman

    You’re an absolute idiot! It’s not the number of times that a president uses executive order that really matters. It’s when a president uses executive power to benefit his own ideological views which then materially changes the fabric of America like Obamacare. Now he’s trying to pass amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants because his goal is to provide them with welfare so that in return they will join the Democratic party and vote Democrat. Again, his goal is to bypass Congress, our Constitution, and change America according to his Marxist left-wing ideology.