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Executive Orders: Is Obama Going Too Far?

February 13, 2013


One of the perks of sitting in the Oval Office is having the authority to set national policy on topics as far ranging as civil liberties and gun control.

The executive order is a tool afforded to the president that has long been used to direct government agencies to do certain things. While the Constitution doesn’t specifically grant this authority, according to a 1999 report prepared for Congress, presidents from George Washington forward have used orders to conduct business.

President Barack Obama’s use of the executive order, however, has drawn fire from critics. In some cases, false claims have been made about the number of orders he’s issued since taking office. One rumor, which has been squelched, claimed Obama had signed 900 executive orders before finishing his first term in office. The real number as of September 2012, according to FactCheck.org, was 139.

Rumors aside, Obama has upped the ante on executive orders in the past few months. On the gun control issue alone, he signed 23 orders, according to Forbes.

Obama is now considering a spate of additional orders, according to an article on the Tampa Bay Times’ website. The topics range from mortgage refinancing to protections for gays and lesbians.

Critics say Obama’s use of the executive order is meant not to keep government operations moving smoothly, but to bypass Congress while seizing more power for the executive branch.

“It is a very dangerous road he’s going down contrary to the spirit of the Constitution,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is quoted in the Times article as saying. “Just because Congress doesn’t act doesn’t mean the president has a right to act.”

Democrats don’t seem to be all that thrilled with some of Obama’s executive orders either.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, called Obama’s push of gun control orders “wrong headed,” according to TownHall.com.

In January, federal judges ruled against one of Obama’s orders, saying he stepped over his Constitutional authority by naming several people to sit on the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was on a break.

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