Here’s a little blast from the past on the executive order front for you. One of the very first actions which Barack Obama took upon being sworn into office was to sit down, break out his pen and sign an order which reversed the “Mexico City Policy.” This action was the removal of the first executive order signed by George W. Bush in 2001, dealing with the funding of international family planning clinics based on whether or not they performed abortions. What’s less often remembered is that Bush 43 had taken the action to reverse an executive order signed by Bill Clinton which authorized funding for such clinics. Did he think of that himself? No, he did not. He, in his turn, was reversing the original order signed by Ronald Reagan. This particular merry-go-round has been circling since well before some of our younger readers were born, and it takes no stretch of the imagination to predict that if a pro-life president is elected this year, a matching executive order reversing the policy yet again will be coming to an Oval Office near you a little over one year from now.
What’s this got to do with the price of rice in China? Well, over at The Hill, Colin Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring USA, is terribly worried that if Donald Trump is elected President, his natural predilections will lead him to go hog wild with the executive order pen, perhaps even more so than Barack Obama.
“Donald Trump, who has never worked for anyone and thus has not been accountable to anyone, prides himself on how he’s been a clever and successful independent business owner,” wrote Colin Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring USA, a public policy organization committed to promoting Constitutional government, free enterprise and traditional values. “Has anyone ever told him ‘no?’ Can a person who has never felt the need to ask for forgiveness be held back by constraints of something as old as the Constitution? It’s unlikely, as he has cut his own path in every industry he has worked. Will he be constrained by the balance of power that lies at the heart of the Constitution’s design of the federal government? Many who think they agree with Trump today may not do so if he takes office and begins wielding power. He has changed his position on several major issues over the years. He was pro-choice, and now he says he’s pro-life. He supported and gave money to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and now he’s criticizing them and their views. He supports the confiscation of private property by eminent domain. Someone who has no record in office is a gamble. What issues would he advocate once elected?”
Is Donald Trump the “type of person” who would go around signing executive orders and forcefully exerting the power of his office as President? Could be, I suppose. His comments on Meet the Press this weekend could certainly lead one to think so.
“I won’t refuse it. I’m going to do a lot of things,” Trump said when asked if he would use executive orders in an interview Sunday on NBC”s “Meet the Press.” “I mean, he’s led the way, to be honest with you,” he added, referring to Obama.
If I had the chance to ask one question of Mr. Hanna it would probably be along the lines of, do you see any candidates from either party who wouldn’t start signing executive orders as soon as they sat down and go to work? The fact that Trump is a business executive who is allegedly used to getting his own way (a rather stupid accusation if you actually know anyone who’s ever run a business) is unlikely to be the driver here. The President is a person who has a number of tools available to them when they want to get their agenda pushed through. For better or worse (and it’s generally worse) the executive order is one of those tools. The most starry eyed neophyte entering office and claiming to hate the idea of the abuse of EO authority – and we’re talking specifically about Obama here, who complained endlessly about Bush’s “abuses” on the 2008 campaign trail – quickly comes around to seeing such actions as less of an evil than they once thought. In fact, Barack Obama is on track to issue as many, if not more, EOs than Bush 43.
The bottom line is that if you think EOs are evil – and there is much to complain about on this score – the problem is not with the person, but with the office and the general acceptance of this as the status quo. It dates back to George Washington and would require a long and difficult campaign to change, but it’s not entirely impossible. Absent such a change, however, I feel confident in assuring you that you’ll be seeing plenty of them from a President Trump. Or a President Cruz or President Rubio or President Bush 45 or – God help us all – President Clinton 45. Feel free to attack Donald Trump if you disagree with his policies and proposals, but this is really the least of your worries.