In recent months, right-wing media outlets have been pushing the narrative of Obama as a dictator who simply signs an executive order whenever he can’t get Congress to do what he wants.
I disagree with plenty of Obama’s politics, but I decided to look into the numbers for myself. Here’s what I found, courtesy of The American Presidency Project at the University of California- Santa Barbara:
The first column of numbers shows total executive orders. As of now, Obama is at 182. Since 1900, only two presidents, Gerald Ford (169) and George Bush senior (166) have signed less total executive orders. However, both of them only served one term.
The second column of numbers shows average executive orders signed per year. Obama is currently at 33.58 orders per year.
That’s lower than both Bush Sr. (31.5) and Gerald Ford (68.92). Both were conservatives who advocated small-government.
In fact, it’s lower than any president since Grover Cleveland was in the White House from 1885-1889. He averaged 28.25 executive orders per year during that time (he averaged 35 during his second term from 1893-1897).
If you want to attack Obama’s executive orders, attack their content, not their numbers. You can check them out on whitehouse.gov here.
The problem is, the orders they list are from 10990-11921. That means they were signed by John F. Kennedy during the Cold War.
It rescinded executive order 13233 (signed by George W. Bush) which let former presidents and even their family members declare “executive privilege” to block public access to White House records for pretty much any reason.