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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.

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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