Now, to be fair, Obama has not used an excessive amount of executive orders compared to other presidents. What he has done is make such outlandish orders that it seems like he’s the king of executive orders. Him saying this, can’t help but hear the ringing of hypocrisy.
With about one month to go before he leaves office, President Barack Obama gave some exit interview-type advice to his successor Donald Trump: Don’t rely too heavily on executive orders.
In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Thursday that aired in its entirety Monday on Morning Edition, Obama said it’s preferable to work with Congress.
“Keep in mind, though, that my strong preference has always been to legislate when I can get legislation done,” Obama said from the Cabinet Room in the White House. “In my first two years, I wasn’t relying on executive powers, because I had big majorities in the Congress and we were able to get bills done, get bills passed. And even after we lost the majorities in Congress, I bent over backwards consistently to try to find compromise and a legislative solution to some of the big problems that we’ve got — a classic example being immigration reform, where I held off for years in taking some of the executive actions that I ultimately took in pursuit of a bipartisan solution — one that, by the way, did pass through the Senate on a bipartisan basis with our help.”
In 2014, Obama signed executive orders that shielded millions living in the country illegally from deportation.
The 44th president is aware that the executive orders by the 45th president can undo his achievements over eight years in office.
“I think that he is entirely within his lawful power to do so,” Obama said.
But just as easily, Trump’s orders can also be wiped out.
“So my suggestion to the president-elect is, you know, going through the legislative process is always better, in part because it’s harder to undo,” he said.
“And that doesn’t mean, though, that he is not going to come in and look at the various agencies and see the rules we’ve passed and if he wants to reverse some of those rules, that’s part of the democratic process. That’s, you know, why I tell people to vote because it turns out elections mean something.”
And this time it meant a change in party.
“Well, it’s hard to assess because we know for example that Hillary [Clinton] won the popular vote by a sizable margin,” he said. “We know that there are a substantial number of voters out there who not only voted for me twice but currently support me who also voted for Donald Trump.
“So I think we have a scrambled political landscape right now. There are some things that we know are a challenge for Democrats — structural problems. For example, population distribution, oftentimes younger voters, minority voters, Democratic voters, are clustered in urban areas.”
He noted the Democrats’ strength is on the U.S. coasts.
“And so as a consequence you’ve got a situation where there’re not only entire states but also big chunks of states where, if we’re not showing up, if we’re not in there making an argument, then we’re going to lose,” he said. “And we can lose badly, and that’s what happened in this election.”
It might mean some fundamental changes in the way the Democratic Party operates, Obama said.
“Building from the ground up and communicating to state legislators and financing school board races and public utility commission races, and, you know, I am a proud Democrat, but I do think that we have a bias towards national issues and international issues, and as a consequence I think we’ve ceded too much territory,” he said.