From overhauling the immigration system to imposing economic sanctions, President Obama has issued more presidential memoranda than any other president in history, according to a USA Today review.
Why is this significant? Well, because they’re nearly identical to executive orders in what they can accomplish and how they impact everyday Americans.
Like executive orders, presidential memoranda don't require action by Congress. They have the same force of law as executive orders and often have consequences just as far-reaching. And some of the most significant actions of the Obama presidency have come not by executive order but by presidential memoranda.
Obama has made prolific use of memoranda despite his own claims that he's used his executive power less than other presidents. "The truth is, even with all the actions I've taken this year, I'm issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years," Obama said in a speech in Austin last July. "So it's not clear how it is that Republicans didn't seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did."
Obama has issued 195 executive orders as of Tuesday. Published alongside them in the Federal Register are 198 presidential memoranda — all of which carry the same legal force as executive orders.
The difference, of course, is the messaging.
“Executive order immediately evokes potentially damaging questions of ‘imperial overreach,’” Kenneth Lowande, a political science doctoral student at UVA, told USA Today. Memorandum, on the other hand, does not.
If there’s one thing this administration is good at, it’s deceiving the American people.