Boehner’s attack on Obama’s executive orders ignores presidential history

Reports today  indicate that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is planning a lawsuit over Barack Obama's use of executive orders. These orders have long been a focal point of right-wing anger, particularly since January of this year when Obama announced he'd be using more of them to bypass a gridlocked and dysfunctional congress.

Back in February I analyzed the numbers on executive order frequency and found that Obama has actually been less likely to resort to the pen and phone than any president since Grover Cleveland. Just a few days ago, John Hudak at Brookings updated the chart through June 17 of this year and found that those numbers haven't budged, at all.


When it comes to executive orders, Obama has so far been a model of executive restraint. Consider that as the political theater of Boehner's lawsuit plays out over the coming days and weeks. As John Hudak writes, "claims that President Obama is issuing more than his predecessors is just flat wrong—and continues to be a talking point completely at odds with real data."

Christopher Ingraham is a data journalist focusing primarily on issues of politics, policy and economics. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.
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Christopher Ingraham | June 25