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President’s Day 2014

President’s Day became a federal holiday in 1971 according to information I could find and prior to 1968 we celebrated both President Lincoln and President Washington’s birthdays which are Feb. 12 and 22 respectively.  Some states still celebrate Lincoln’s birthday seperately including California, Arizona, Illinois, Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Indiana.  It is interesting to note this holiday, according to the law designating it, is still Washington’s birthday.  For this President’s Day I researched the number of Presidential Executive Orders issued.  A Presidential Executive Order can’t create a law.  The President of the United States does NOT have that authority.  Only Congress can create laws.  Many Presidential Executive Orders for example create boards or commissions that are charged with providing a report back to the president on a topic.  According to the Federal Register who numbers them and files them, they are “informational listings not provided as definitive legal authority.”

The Federal Register is where I found these numbers.  Abraham Lincoln issued 48 Executive Orders during his presidency, the numbers have risen since that time.  The first 15 U.S. President’s averaged 9.5 proclamations and orders.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt served during the Great Depression and World War II and served 12 years in the White House, so it didn’t surprise me he had the most, but the number is staggering. 3,728, that’s about 311 a year.  Totals are: Ronald Reagan 381, Bill Clinton 264, The younger George Bush 291 and so far, Barack Obama has signed 167.  For example President Obama recently signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for Federal contractor workers to 10.10 an hour. Technically the President can’t spend money without Congressional approval.  The younger George Bush signed an executive order designating the Afghanistan combat zone and President Clinton before him signed an executive order designating the Adriatic Sea combat zone. (sound familiar VietNam vets?)  Without Congress the President can veto a bill, grant pardons and reprieves, convene Congress into special session and call out the National Guard to deal with an emergency.

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