Ed Henry to Earnest: Obama "Misleading" People On How Much He Uses Executive Actions


ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: You will remember some months ago the president claimed he was using executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. 195 executive orders less than Democratic and Republican predecessors but when you add on 198 presidential memorandum, it actually turns out he is using a lot more than his predecessors, right?

JOSH EARNEST: I think there is no doubt the president has sought to use executive authority to move this country forward within the confines of the law. Often times in the face of Congressional inaction. That I wouldn't disagree with.

ED HENRY: Why did he make this public claim that there was this criticism that I'm acting on an executive basis, and I'm doing that at the lowest level in 100 years, that was not really true.

JOSH EARNEST: It was true because the number of executive orders is lower, as you pointed out, than executive orders that have been issued by many of his previous predecessors.

ED HENRY: Presidential memoranda have essentially the same effect, despite being called something different. The fact of the matter is that he is taking a lot more executive action.

JOSH EARNEST: There is an important difference between executive orders and presidential memorandums. I would grant the premise that the president has used every element at his disposal to use -- to move the country forward and he has done that in a way consistent with the law and precedents and is often carried out in the face of pretty rigid Congressional obstruction.

ED HENRY: What do you see as the distinction? What is the difference? It is still executive action, so what is the difference?

JOSH EARNEST: Generally speaking, presidential memoranda are associated with more technical issues and often directives related to a subset of agencies. Executive orders are often more sweeping and impactful. I concede that this president has using executive orders and presidential memoranda used his authority to move the country forward as much as it possibly can.

Whether it is taking action on climate change, adding accountability to the broken immigration system or even relaxing the failed trade restriction policies as it relates to Cuba. The president has taken a number of steps to move the country forward. I recognize this was something done over the objection of many members of Congress. Frankly, a lot of this was done because congress is refusing to act.

ED HENRY: Generally they are more sweeping, but in the case of immigration, which you will announce was pretty sweeping, it was a presidential memorandum. So by your definition, I am slightly confused? You said the executive order was quite sweeping. The Immigration one actually was not. The point that I was trying to make them the matter what you call it, he was kind of misleading people about how often he was using executive actions.

JOSH EARNEST: I think the president was being explicit that his predecessors have issued far more than he has. I do not think anyone has made the case come here that he is not willing to use executive authority to move the country forward. In fact, he has. Thank you, Ed.

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