This week, a USA Today report uncovered a statistic that confirms what many Obama detractors have suspected for years about the current administration.  President Obama, at his current rate, will issue more executive actions than any president since Harry Truman.  This directly contradicts the popular White House narrative that Obama is the least active executive order issuer in the last 100 years.  The key phrase in that sentence is “executive order”.  What the president has done is play what Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) refers to as a word game by drastically increasing the number of presidential memorandums while keep the number of executive orders down.

What is a presidential memorandum?  Obama supporters argue that a presidential memorandum and an executive order aren’t the same thing.  However, according to the USA Today report, both actions have the same legal authority and both do not require action from Congress.  As the graph illustrates below, the number of memos has increased dramatically under this president.

fTwfaNMWhen the number of presidential memoranda and executive orders are combined, the amount is on pace to far surpass any president since Harry Truman.  Yes, that includes President George W. Bush.  Obama is on track to surpass him by 33%.  The number of memoranda alone issued by Obama is already the highest by far of any president since 1945.

Why is this important?  Since the start of the Obama presidency, Republicans have pushed back on controversial issues like Obamacare, the Hobby Lobby case, Libya, executive amnesty and the many scandals that have surfaced such as the one that continues to plague the IRS.  The common denominator from all of these events is federal overreach.

In some circles, President Obama has a reputation for over stepping the bounds of his constitutional restraints.  This report seems to confirm the idea that he is playing fast and loose with terminology to get done what he wants to get done in the most discreet way.  His critics appear to have a point not only about the actual number but regarding the scope of these orders as well.

Several of the presidential memos that Obama has signed off on are very bold actions which disproves another popular liberal myth that the president’s actions are only intended to tinker with broad and unclear laws that are in need of adjustment.  The following is an excerpt from the USA Today Report:

“Obama has issued executive orders to give federal employees the day after Christmas off, to impose economic sanctions and to determine how national secrets are classified. He’s used presidential memoranda to make policy on gun control, immigration and labor regulations. Tuesday, he used a memorandum to declare Bristol Bay, Alaska, off-limits to oil and gas exploration.”

Clearly, the President has not been honest with the American people about his use of executive actions.  His team has already doubled down on the “word game” by responding to the USA Today report with the “memos are not orders” defense despite knowing that they are the same thing.  It is hard to argue with the findings of this report and the American people seem to be paying attention.  A recent Bloomberg poll shows that the majority of Americans disapprove of the way President Obama has been issuing executive actions.

This report leaves no doubt that this administration is attempting to blur the lines between the boundaries of the different branches of government in order to circumvent what it views as a do-nothing Congress.  The question now is how will the newly elected Republican majority address this issue when it is sworn in next month?

– Andrew Mark Miller