Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Barack Obama has used executive orders to seal presidential records; create a faith council, an economic council, and a domestic policy council, a council on women and girls and dozens more; study bioethics, change pay grades, set up a team of governors to synchronize state and federal military operations in the U.S.; improve regulatory review; create a jobs council; set up immunity for Bosnia, revoke some earlier orders and talk about finances. GASP!
And he’s used them to talk about fiscal responsibility, ensure abortions through Obamacare; review Guantanamo Bay operations; promote diversity; amend court-martial procedures; launch a national women action plan, talk about Syria, talk about North Korea, encourage efficient government, target transnational crime groups, promote efficient spending and many, many more. WHEW!
Now critics are saying that if it looks like he’s trying to run the country single-handedly, their perceptions aren’t far off.
“It is very disconcerting,” said Richard Thompson, chief of the Thomas More Law Center. The organization is fighting the Obama administration on a number of the subjects that also have been raised in executive orders.
A viral email circulating now, just as the volume in the 2012 presidential race crescendos, states that Obama has issued 923 executive orders in three and a half years, up from George W. Bush’s 62 in eight years.
Experts told WND that while Obama’s pace is above some other presidents, the figure of more than 900 is unrealistic.
The numbers show that Obama is issuing similar numbers of orders to his predecessor, George W. Bush. In three and a half years, Obama has issued just under 140 orders, or about 40 per year. In eight years, Bush issued some 290, about 36 per year.
Obama’s have included startling issues, however, including an order last March giving administration officials the power to order the acceptance and performance of contracts for farm equipment, food, health resources, transportation resources, construction materials and even water – should the federal government want it.
Earlier presidents issued higher numbers of orders, but also were dealing with different circumstances, especially those who followed World War II.
Bill Clinton issued 364 in eight years (46 per year), George H.W. Bush had 166 in four years (41), Ronald Reagan 381 in eight years (48), Jimmy Carter 310 in four years (77), Gerald Ford 169 in three years (58), Richard Nixon 346 in five years (69), Lyndon Johnson 325 in about six years (54), John Kennedy 214 in about three years (70), Dwight Eisenhower 486 in eight years (60), Harry Truman 901 in eight years (112), and Franklin D. Roosevelt 3,734 in 12 years (311).
Some of those from Truman involved settling railroad labor disputes, ending the office of defense transportation, moving a land office from Carson City to Reno and exempting an individual from a compulsory retirement age.
Even the the far left-leaning FactCheck wrote, “It’s true that President Obama is increasingly using his executive powers in the face of staunch Republican opposition in Congress. He’s changed federal policies on immigration and welfare and appointed officials without congressional approval.”
The explanation continued, “Obama is employing his executive powers now more than ever before during his presidency. Obama has been sidestepping Congress through his ‘We Can’t Wait’ initiative, a series of executive actions that he claims benefit the middle class through infrastructure projects and economic policy changes. He also skirted Senate approval in January when he appointed nominees to the National Labor Relations Board and to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The appointments were unprecedented because he made them when the Senate was technically not in recess, prompting legal challenges from conservative groups.”
And the explanation said, “In June, the president halted deportations of illegal immigrants who entered the United States when they were children and met certain requirements, such as the lack of a criminal record. The change mirrored provisions of the DREAM Act — failed legislation that Obama supported and Senate Republicans blocked in 2010. And in July, Obama changed welfare policy to allow states to modify work requirements if they test new approaches to increasing employment. Obama did not submit the policy change to Congress for review, which the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office concluded he should have done.”
“In Article I Section I of the Constitution we learn that all legislative powers reside in Congress. The executive branch has the responsibility to execute the laws passed by Congress. An executive order is not legislation. It is an order issued by the president to enforce laws passed by Congress. This is backed by the declaration that the president ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed’ made in Article II, Section 3, Clause 5. Thus, executive orders can only be used to carry out the will of Congress (which is only supposed to be passing laws in line with the Constitution), and not to issue new policy.”
Thompson agreed, but said that’s not the way reality has been playing out lately.
He said some of Obama’s orders appear to be flagrantly unconstitutional, but because it’s a presidential order, it is followed unless some individual or group challenges it – and wins.
“We’ve looked at the issue. Depending on the particular order, there may be material that is unconstitutional,” he said. “But the issue is what are you going to do about it?”
He said the first line of defense against an unconstitutional president should be Congress. They should say, ‘The president is enacting legislation without other branches of government,” he said.
He said, however, if Congress fails to act, then it is up to an individual who is willing to make a fight of it.
He said two recent Obama administration actions are examples of the problems that have been created. One is the White House determination that prosecutors simply are not going to follow the law regarding illegal aliens of certain ages and qualifications in the U.S. In effect, an implementation of amnesty that already was rejected in Congress.
Further is the recent announcement by the White House it would abandon the federal Defense of Marriage Act, not offering a defense should a lawsuit be filed over its requirements. The result here is that an existing federal law is left unenforced because of an administration’s decision that it doesn’t like it.
Thompson said such attitudes should be, in his opinion, grounds for impeachment.
With such a move, he said, the Department of Justice “now becomes an illegal entity – violating the law. Congress should have them up there, on an impeachable offense,” he said.
It would give permission for millions of those who broke the law to enter the United States – and their children – to obtain legal standing now, she explained.
“Obama showed his contempt for our constitutional legislative process by his effort to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” she said, “That is another example of his violation of the express obligation laid on the president by the U.S. Constitution to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’”
Another recent maneuver on the part of the president overturned the congressionally mandated work requirements with the 1996 welfare reform act.
Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation explained the law explicitly states that no president could change the work requirements, since those were the heart and soul of the reforms.
Yet Obama did just that.
And in her WND commentary, Andrea Shea king reported that Obama is trying to get an order prepared to give him “the power to override Congress when it comes to the Internet.”
The use or misuse of the system has gotten so egregious that music star Ray Stevens, whose “The Streak” decades ago set a standard for enlightening music fans about political and social trends in America, launched a new video skewering Obama’s executive orders.
He “doesn’t seem to care about the Constitution; that’s passé. He’s got a new solution,” Stevens sings on his “Obama Nation” video.”
He’s joined by Billy Dean and Larry Gatlin in the performance, which includes quotes from longtime Obama friend and former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers (“We are communist, women and men, underground in the United States”) and George Soros (“The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States”).
He also explains that Obama really doesn’t need to bother Congress, as “They’d just get in his way.”
“The separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is at the heart of the Constitution of the United States – and the Constitution is at the heart of freedom for Americans,” he wrote. “No president of the United States is authorized to repeal parts of legislation passed by Congress. He may veto the whole legislation, but then Congress can override his veto if they have enough votes. Nevertheless, every president takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws that have been passed and sustained – not just the ones he happens to agree with.
“If laws passed by the elected representatives of the people can be simply overruled unilaterally by whoever is in the White House, then we are no longer a free people, choosing what laws we want to live under,” he continued. “When a president can ignore the plain language of duly passed laws and substitute his own executive orders, then we no longer have ‘a government of laws, and not of men’ but a president ruling by decree, like the dictator in some banana republic.”
“I can see him telling gun stores, ‘You can’t sell a gun over .380. You can’t sell rifles [that use large magazines] or I’m pulling your license,” he said. “Even without legal authority, or constitutional authority. That hasn’t stopped him on so many other issues.”
He said there likely wouldn’t be any legislation or court ruling involved, just administrative or executive orders from Obama to change rules for gun stores and individuals.
“That’s the kind of thing I can see the president doing in a heartbeat,” he said. “This guy thinks winning an election is tantamount to [being dictator].”
He said the Obama “overreach” by issuing executive orders was “nothing new.”
“He has frequently complained about how democracy and the Constitution are ‘messy’ and do not permit him to exercise the authority of a Chinese president. But he nevertheless warned us that he would be pushing forward with his agenda through executive orders and administrative actions ‘on a wide range of fronts,’” Limbaugh warned.
“But he has outdone himself this time [regarding illegal aliens], even going beyond limitations he freely recognized not long ago, when he complained that he didn’t have the authority to impose his immigration policy wish list. Perhaps recent polling numbers showing him trailing Mitt Romney have increased his desperation,” Limbaugh said.
“His frontal assaults on the Constitution are so brazen now it’s hard not to conclude that he was willing to take a calculated risk that his excesses would offend fewer rule-of-law sticklers than they would attract Hispanic voters.”
He said, “I’m just getting warmed up, but it suffices to say that it’s past time for Democratic lawmakers to join with Republicans in defending our Constitution and our liberties against this rogue president.”
Columnist Eric Rush noted that the dozens of “czars” appointed by Obama are in fact an extension of the executive order concept, since they report to no one but the president.
“I’ve been saying this for some time, but I was still gratified to hear [Canada Free Press writer Doug] Hagmann say it, and that his column and May 7 followup piece gleaned significant exposure. Attributing his information to an anonymous insider, Hagmann outlines how the Obama administration is covertly utilizing prominent agitators among the political left to incite chaos, and eventually violence, based on racial and class factors, while the administration continues to sabotage America’s economic engine. The latter efforts are also intended to catalyze widespread civil unrest.”
He said, “Implementation of this plan is, according to Hagmann’s source, being carried out via Obama’s unelected czars and heavily involves the Department of Homeland Security. From lower-level DHS agents making payments to street-level agitators, to former green energy czar Van Jones mentoring Occupy leaders, to coordination with political allies such as the New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, the administration has all bases covered. Cultural balkanization and another heavy hit to the economy are calculated to result in unprecedented rioting and finally widespread public pandemonium followed by implementation of martial law.”
Objectives are ‘personal power for Obama’
“The objectives here are personal power for Obama, of course, and a coalescing of the federal government’s authority; the goal, the destruction of the United States of America as a constitutional republic,” he said.
Even a startled New York Times reported, “President George W. Bush used his executive power to bypass Congress, almost as a matter of routine. Now President Barack Obama is pulling a similar stunt.”
There even are reports that Obama could use executive orders to take the nation into an era of ceded authority and diminished international capabilities.
The plan uncovered calls for an executive order to be issued for a National Ocean Policy that will determine how the ecosystem is managed while giving the federal government more regulatory authority over any businesses that utilize the ocean.
The executive order is to be based on the recommendations of Obama’s Interagency Ocean Policy Taskforce, created in 2010 also by executive order.