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Executive Orders: Is Obama Going Too Far?

President Barack Obama has the authority to set policy, but some say he’s abusing it to skirt Congress. We’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue, Tampa Bay.

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.

Here’s what we’d like to hear from you, Tampa Bay: Is Obama justified in his use of executive orders? Or, do you agree with Grassley that he’s going down a “very dangerous road.” Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Michael D. February 13, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Torrey, My reasoning it is a joke. People are complaining about Obama doing it, but if Reagan does it for those same people it's a OK. Nothing more, nothing less. I feel the executive order, should only be used in the most extreme or minor of situation. So from my perspective it's circumventing the system regardless who does it. But it does have it post implementation balances.
Martha R Hayes February 13, 2013 at 09:32 PM
A simple question. My simple answer, NO! One comment not debating a thing: Until we can come together and show support for OUR President, no one is benefiting. Very sad examples for our children,
Jim Slaughter February 13, 2013 at 10:07 PM
ABSOLUTELY! Thank you for your comment!
Tommy Frain February 13, 2013 at 11:21 PM
The housing issue, the war issue, and the executive order issue is not a left-right issue it is a status quo issue. Both sides of the chamber put on a good show of divisiveness and debate, but in the end they win and we the people lose. Both the left and the right are FOR expansion of military operations, were FOR inflating the housing bubble post 9/11 and even back to the Nixon Admin., and both have used the powers of the executive order to usurp the Constitution. It is about time we the people hold our elected officials accountable, on both sides of the aisle, and realize that they are all to blame.
rick barasso February 14, 2013 at 12:28 AM
gail, You have no idea what you are talking about. You have no facts to back up your theory. So I guess, you are a true Republican!
Support & Defend February 14, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Plus ca change, la meme chose!
Allie's Grandpa February 14, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Well said, sir, well said. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
Dad of Three February 14, 2013 at 12:42 AM
To be fair, Clinton was partly to blame with his "let's ease regulations" attitude (which is why some conservatives liked Clinton), but Bush took the nation way over the top with his failure to ensure proper oversight and correction. Sadly, my GOP (and Dad's too) has gone bonkers for what the right wing extremists like to call a "market-based economy," which has actually meant "get away with as much plundering as you can before the s**t hits the fan."
Allie's Grandpa February 14, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Good grief, gail, you are making an absurd statement. Where do you get this kind of crap?
JS February 14, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Fascism at its finest! Enjoy America, you put him in there.
michael mirra February 14, 2013 at 12:36 PM
You've got it all wrong. It's like Sinclair Lewis said in 1935> WHEN FASCISM COMES TO AMERICA IT WILL COME AS A CRUCIFIX WRAPPED IN A FLAG.
David Conkle February 14, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Wait, I'm confused? I thought the President was a socialist. Please explain how one can be a socialist and a facist at the same time. Aren't these two idealogies diametrically opposed? Please make up your mind JS, the President can't be a facist and a socialist at the same time. You're not making any sense in espousing your blind hatred for a good man.
Michael D. February 14, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Do3, A market economy works if the market is a Free Market, which isn't the case here in America. The Market for CEO/executive pay is hyper-inflated due to some of the piece the market has. Like any market it will crash (in my opinion), but just like the top is artifically inflated so is the bottom. The people getting crunched are the middle class, and we allow it to happen.
Michael D. February 14, 2013 at 02:08 PM
David, How dare you use their own agruments against them. For shame.
Dan Pressler February 14, 2013 at 02:12 PM
David Conkle - Obama is many things - possible even a good man - but he sure is an awful president who does not have a clue about America & has done more damage to this country - economically & militarily - thru his extralegal activities than any president I can recall or think of. It does not matter if he is Fascist or Socialist he is just plain bad for america
Michael D. February 14, 2013 at 02:18 PM
MM, And no people on the extreme liberal side, are oppressive in their own ways. Both groups can be filled with hate. Just read how you discribe the conservatives, and you will see you are as bad as those you complain about.
Robert Saltzman February 14, 2013 at 02:56 PM
"It does not matter if he is Fascist or Socialist he is just plain bad for america" Because??? Please explain you accusations, according to who? Those that didn't vote for him? "Obama .... he sure is an awful president who does not have a clue about America & has done more damage to this country" Can you give us your specifics on this statement...inquiring minds want to know and all that rubbish...
David Conkle February 14, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Dan, perhaps it is you and the other malcontented Republican/Teabaggers who are bad for America. If you don't like it, lump it or leave it. The majority of Americans are so tired of people such as yourself playing the blame game at every opportunity and espousing their lies and vile hatreds. To be sure we have many unresolved issues and problems in our country and I don't agree with the expansion of executive powers either, however, you're either part of the solution or part of the problem. Which are you, Dan?
Karen Liebold February 14, 2013 at 05:43 PM
I believe this situation isn't all about how many executive orders President Obama has issued. but about the actual content of the orders and why he does them. If he were in Washington working more, and not "campaigning" around the coutry for his causes, and at least appearing to work together with Congress, there might be less anxiety over these executive orders. Finally, this nation's founding fathers put a particular system of checks and balances in place for a purpose, and I do feel our current president tries to circumvent them way too often.
vera charles February 15, 2013 at 05:41 AM
The current House of Representatives is the most dysfunctional legislative body this nation has ever seen. Ronald Reagan, who thrived on the carefully constructed compromises he worked out with House Speaker Tip O'Neil, would have been frustrated by the absurd refusals by the current House to engage in good government compromises so that our nation could progress, rather than be the laughing stock of the industrialized nations. Lyndon Johnson would never have been able to pass both Medicare, the lifeline for our seniors, and the Civil Rights Act, which finally drove a stake in the heart of the social vampires which wanted to keep some of our people as second class citizens. Both of those powerful and astute Presidents would have used Executive Orders much more than they did, if they also had to endure the burden of this GOP-led House which prefers to shut down government, and risk the US debt rating, and damn the economy to more and more uncertainty making businesses too nervous to act boldly with growth.
B Wood February 15, 2013 at 07:48 PM
I am amazed at how popular it is to make a bold political statement and then either not provide any factual support for it or to provide a completely one sided view to support it. Virtually every elected politician does this (including the President) and most major news media do this because they are paid to be biased and to influence the general public. It important to remember almost every issue has two sides to consider before one should take a bold position on any issue. We, the citizens, should strive for a more balanced position on these issues and also consider the opposing arguments before taking strong positions. Is Obama justified in his use of executive orders? Every President has used executive orders, and its not the number of orders, rather the content or objective of the executive order(s) that is important. Executive orders challenging or iqnoring existing law(s) and/or the Constitution are wrong and allow individuals in government to bypass the citizens due process. We have existing processes for updating those laws and the Constitution. Before you defend or criticize the President, look at the content/objectives of his 139 executive orders before you take a position. I suspect most of the authors expressing their thoughts in this thread, have very little knowledge of the executive orders contents and objectives.
Mark E. Talboom, D.C. February 16, 2013 at 03:17 PM
The past four years we have seen "the worst congress in history" with the "lowest approval rating ever", led by the PARTY OF NO reject almost everything the president has proposed all in the name of making him "a one term president". Well, that approach failed. Now they saying NO, just to be obstructionist and because they can. When you a congress that wastes the people's time and money by voting to repeal ObamaCare 33 times, it is pretty sure indicator that they have no intention of working for the interest of their constituents and aren't serious about accomplishing anything for the next 4 years. They then accuse the president of "not leading" and when he does propose legislations, he "isn't serious". If the republicans and their teabugger masters would even attempt to cooperate with the president instead of blocking or not even considering legislation, that might be a good start. I agree that a president of either party shouldn't have to issue executive orders to get anything done. The carrot doesn't seem to work for this bunch of congress asses to get them moving. Maybe the stick approach of a series of executive orders and taking his case to the people might get things moving, but I doubt it. All these congressional republicans will do is NOTHING. Oh wait.... that's wrong. They will do NOTHING and then WHINE about the president's actions.
Allie's Grandpa February 16, 2013 at 04:54 PM
AS a lifelong centrist Republican, I applaud this sound analysis of our current problems in Washington. Bring back the era of centrist cooperation between the Republicans and the Democrats; it served us well, when it was the standard, for most of the twentieth century. Extremists from the radical right and the radical left are a cancer in the body politic.
Jim Slaughter February 16, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Grandpa, you've got it exactly right but I don't see the radical left as anywhere near the vile language and refusal to cooperate as on the right. The GOP has let the Tea Baggers set the agenda. BAD mistake GOP! The people are fed up. Get on board or we will be sure you get lost in 2014.
Jim Slaughter February 16, 2013 at 05:25 PM
EXACTLY!
Jim Slaughter February 16, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Precisely! Remember, Obama was a constitutional law professor. Between his own knowledge and that provided him by the Attorney General, I suspect he is on sound legal footing when issuing executive orders. The GOP whines about everything that wasn't THEIR idea. They need to wise up before they cease to exist.
Mark E. Talboom, D.C. February 16, 2013 at 06:43 PM
I suppose the deadlock and refusal to cooperate on any level is preferred for folks like you. This isn't abuse of power. It's an attempt to actually get something accomplished while the congress sits on their hands and does little but vote 33 times to repeal ObamaCare--which is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN because people are tired of the repugs and their teabugger masters. The demise of the republican party can't happen soon enough if this is all they've got-NONONONO. Obama extended a hand of way too much cooperation throughout his first term much to the anger of his supporters and the republicans took this as a sign of weakness, and the Boneristas refused to take that opportunity to get some things done. You can hardly blame the president for not wanting a repeat of that scenario time around. The people in this country are tired of republican-caused gridlock--I for one applaud the president. Maybe the other side will get the message and start serving their constituents instead of the Koch Bros. and Big Money interests.
Allie's Grandpa February 17, 2013 at 02:29 AM
You are correct on the current disproportionality, but there was a time in the 60's and early 70's when the radical left was stronger. In recent years the radical right lunatic fringe of the GOP have been the dominant radical force, and there is certainly no radical left media outlet that comes close to the clowns like Limbaugh and Hannity and O'Reilly and Beck (and there are probably fringe metaphorical toilet lickers much more extreme than those whom I have encountered). Clearly they are feeding the "Tea Party" frenzy which is currently destroying America. But this is not a static situation, and my objection is to the radical fringes of American politics, whether of the left or right. A plague on both of their sick houses.
michael mirra February 17, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Grandpa, you said there were some more extreme than O'Rielly & Beck. You got that right. Check out Alex Jones> http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TgOzRjG4Cvw Years ago, he blamed Bush/Channey for faking 9/11. Now he is anti Obama. Check out the true insanity. O'Rielly & Beck are like alter boys compared to this a-hole.
Jim S February 18, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Alex Jones is DANGEROUS. He poisons the weak minded who can't think for themselves. Someday, one of these insanely radical individuals is going to go too far and goad some psychopath in their audience to kill someone. THEN maybe we can have a sane conversation about just how far free speech should go. IMHO, spouting the hatred and bile people like Jones, et al put out is no different than yelling FIRE in a crowded theater. ... and .... THAT concept IS illegal.

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