Today, the current occupant of the Oval Office, Donald Trump, threatened to issue an Executive Order to protect monuments to Confederates. If we can remember only four years ago, members of the Grand Old Party were apoplectic concerning the number of Executive Orders issued by the then occupant of the Oval Office President Barack Obama. At the time I thought, surely there must be data to back up the claim that President Obama was issuing Executive Orders at a greater rate than that of his predecessors.

As my students tell me, “Wikipedia to the Rescue!” Wikipedia keeps very detailed charts of both a President’s time in office and the number of Executive Orders he has issued. Using these resources, I’ve created a table to determine the rate of Executive Orders (my metric is Executive Orders per 100 days) for each President since Grover Cleveland’s first term (March 4, 1885 — March 4, 1889).

Table of U.S. Presidents by time in office, number of Executive Orders, and rate of Executive Orders.

As you can see, Mr. Obama issued Executive Orders at a rate lower than any President since Grover Cleveland’s first term (> 120 years ago). So while there were those who “felt” that Mr. Obama was an imperial President issuing Executive Orders to re-write laws at a much greater rate than any of his predecessors, the “facts” tell us the complete opposite.

P.S. In case you’re curious, without this latest threat, Mr. Trump issued his 164th Executive Order on June 24, 2020, his 1251st day in office, bringing his rate of Executive Orders to 13.11 EO/100 days. This is almost 40% higher than President Obama. Another number of note would be that if Mr. Trump did not issue another Executive Order for the remainder of this term (1461 days), his rate would still be higher than President Obama (11.23 EO/100 days).

Question for the GOP: Where is the outrage?

Jim Leous thinks about Emerging Technologies for Penn State