George W.'s First Week Was Much Slower

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Donald Trump has already signed 12 executive orders, including some about Obamacare and immigration while proposing numerous others, all by his fifth day in office. Sweeping into the White House with all of these executive orders and presidential memoranda, Trump is moving quickly, but his predecessor signed some orders, too. In fact, Barack Obama issued five executive orders in his first week, pertaining to Guantanamo Bay, the War on Terror, and more. But George W. Bush started things off more slowly — Bush issued 291 executive orders during his presidency, but only two of those appeared during his first week in office.

According to the Pew Research Center, Bush issued an average of 36 executive orders per year during his two terms, which is only slightly higher than Obama's 35-per-year average. With 277 total executive orders, Obama actually issued fewer executive orders than any two-term president since Grover Cleveland, with Bush coming in just behind Obama.

During his campaign, Trump had vowed to either amend or eliminate many of Obama's executive orders, but he is certainly not the first president to do so. In fact, Bush also participated in this practice, as did many other presidents. One particular executive order pertaining to cost-benefit considerations was issued by Gerald Ford, amended by Jimmy Carter, revoked and replaced by Ronald Reagan, amended by Bill Clinton, amended by Bush in the form of two executive orders, and ultimately revoked by Obama.

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The two executive orders Bush signed during his first week in office called for faith-based and other community organizations to receive federal funding if they provided social services. After 9/11, however, many of Bush's executive orders pertained to the military and the War on Terror.

Some of the more infamous executive orders from the Bush presidency included Executive Order 13440, which attempted to sidestep interrogation protections named in the Geneva Conventions, as well as Executive Order 13435, which limited funding for stem-cell research. Following Obama's inauguration, many people called on him to revoke these Bush-era executive orders.

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Trump is outpacing previous presidents with his executive orders by a bit, and they are cause for concern. His commitment to dismantling Obama's executive orders may not be unprecedented, but he is still calling for dangerous policies ranging from the construction of a border wall to a ban on certain refugees.

Obama spent the first part of his presidency issuing executive orders to deal with some of Bush's decisions about the War on Terror. Trump is clearly just getting started, though, and we can't afford to wait for a new president to undo his actions.