Barack Obama, who once threatened, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone” to impose executive orders, is telling his soon-to-be successor Donald Trump that he really shouldn’t be using executive orders that much.
In fact, in an interview with NPR, he went on and on about it.
“Keep in mind though that my strong preference has always been to legislate, when I can get legislation done,” Obama said.
“In my first two years, I wasn’t relying on executive powers because I had big majorities in the Congress and we are able to get bills passed. Even after we lost the majorities in Congress, I bent over backward consistently to try to find compromise and a legislative solution to some of the big problems that we’ve got,” he said.
He cited his efforts to get Congress to give him what he wanted on immigration, and when lawmakers wouldn’t, it was then he took executive action, he explained.
“My suggestion to the president elect is, you know, going through the legislative process is always better, in part because it’s harder to undo,” he said.
See the interview:
Fox News described Obama, who repeatedly has turned to the executive pen to impose major changes across America, such as a rule requiring that building owners allow men to use women’s restrooms when they say they are women, and more, as “pen-happy.”
His rules also are requiring doctors to perform transgender surgery for patients, even if the physician believes that will harm the patient.
“Some” of Obama’s executive directives weren’t controversial, the report said, but “others were sweeping and met immediately with legal challenges. Some of the most ambitious executive orders were meant to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation; however, the Supreme Court effectively blocked those 2014 changes this past June.”
President-elect Trump, meantime, promised during his campaign to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.”
And the sitting president has continued with a flood of orders and mandates from his pen, including hundreds and hundreds of prison sentence pardons and commutations for convicted drug dealers, as well as new rules for the coal industry – both coming just this week.
But it was Chris Golden in a commentary at Western Journalism who really put the advice to Trump in perspective.
“Before you ask: No, you are not reading something from The Onion, nor any other satirical website, nor even out of the realm of ‘fake news,’” he said. “There are plenty of ridiculous things that Barack Obama has said throughout the last eight years, ‘You didn’t build that.’ ‘If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.’ ‘I’ve now been in 57 states.’ We could go on and on about lies and distortions this president has uttered that nobody in their right mind could believe.”
He continued, explaining the latest “piece of advice … was so bizarre it sounded as though the president were trying to make a joke.”
“Of course … this is a president whose idea of ‘compromise’ is to tell conservatives, ‘Okay, you agree to what we’ve laid out, and we’ll agree to think that you did the right thing.’”
Obama actually has issued orders on a wide range of major issues, from labor and climate to immigration and restrooms. Sometimes they’ve been imposed, sometimes courts have blocked him, sometimes Congress blocked him. He’s also addressed guns, the Iran nuclear deal, even federal pay and overtime compensation.
These actions all from a president who, according to Reason.com, moved into the White House on the statement of rolling back the executive power that President George W. Bush had exercised.
“The president is not above the law,” he had insisted way back then.
He unilaterally declared war on Libya in 2011, even though the Constitution requires that decision from Congress.
“Similarly, despite the fact that the Constitution requires the Senate to confirm all presidential appointments to high office, except in those limited circumstances in which the Senate is not available to act because it is in recess, Obama unilaterally placed multiple officials in high office without senatorial approval during a period in which the Senate was still in session,” the blog continued.
He got a thumbs-up, too, from legacy media in his actions.
Reason explained when George W. Bush was in office, the New York Times lambasted him for his “grandiose vision of executive power” and called his recess appointments “a constitutional gimmick.”
“But guess what the Times had to say a few years later when President Obama had the reins and he utilized the same gimmick? ‘Mr. Obama was entirely justified in using his executive power to keep federal agencies operational,’ the Times declared,” Reason argued.
Those appointments were to the National Labor Relations Board, appointments the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled unconstitutional.
While statistics reveal that Obama has not issued significantly more executive orders that other recent presidents, his executive orders have been far more encompassing. And he’s also added just about as many “presidential memoranda,” which also carry the weight of orders.
A report at the Daily Dot noted Congress had taken note of Obama’s actions, and was investigating.
“This threat that the president’s going to run the government with an ink pen and executive orders, we’ve never had a president with that level of audacity and that level of contempt for his own oath of office,” Rep. Steve. King, an Iowa Republican, said in the report.
Over the years, Republican presidents have issued 7,122 executive orders, and Democrat presidents 8,337.
“A president could issue 1,000 executive orders,” Chris Edelson, of the American University School of Government, said in the report. “As long as they were all based on legitimate statutory or constitutional authority, [the executive orders] would be fine. Another president could issue just one executive order like the one FDR relied on to initiate the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II – which was later supported by Congress but should have been recognized as unconstitutional – and be way out of line.”