The Mercatus Center published an interesting report recently. They wrote:
As John Hudak of the Brookings Institution pointed out, “not all executive orders are created equal. Some are quite forceful, making dramatic changes to policy. Others are more routine, housekeeping issues. To say that one president issued more executive orders than another, tells us little about the scope of those orders or the impact they have on policy.”
While other analysts have examined the number of executive orders issued by different administrations, we have used RegData, a database producing statistics based on the Code of Federal Regulations, to examine some of the content of these executive orders and proclamations for the past six presidencies, through the end of Obama’s first term. In particular, we examine the usage of restrictions—words that create binding, legal obligations, such as “shall” and “must.” Although the current administration has issued fewer executive orders than other modern administrations, the figures below show that its total usage of restrictions in executive orders and proclamations exceeds that of any of the past six administrations, with the exception of Clinton’s first term. In fact, while the figures below show that Obama’s first term hardly stands out from other presidents with regard to the number of words published in executive orders and proclamations, both the Obama years and the Clinton years stand out for the restrictiveness of the text they produced, as measured by restrictions per 1,000 words.