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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Obama's 2014 Executive Orders

August 1st of this year, something historic happened. A young tech head from San Francisco named Sina Khanifar, a self proclaimed "entrepreneur taking a break from startups to work on political advocacy," petitioned the White House on an issue he cared about. He petitioned the White House by using the .gov's We The People feature on the President's website www.whitehouse.gov, which has generated more than 15 million users and 22 million signatures on over 350,000 petitions since it started in 2011.

This very interesting and very useful page gives American citizens the option of posting a petition on any subject they chose. When a petition reaches its signature threshold (100,000 signatures within 30 days), the White House promises to take the subject up. That simple. This tool is unprecedented, and welcome to activists everywhere who have longed for a way to get the ear of a President’s administration, and this month, for the very first time, a We the People petition led to a legislative fix, signed and sealed by POTUS himself. It was a win for consumers, and has become an important milestone for We The People.

According to whitehouse.gov, here's how it happened:

Back “in January of 2013, internet activist Sina Khanifar started a We the People petition that asked the government to make cell phone unlocking legal. The petition came in the wake of a decision by the Library of Congress that made it illegal for consumers to unlock their cell phones. Unlocking a cell phone would allow a phone to be used on any compatible network. By making it illegal for consumers to unlock their phones, it also makes it impossible to end mobile service with one company and start service with another, while still keeping your same mobile device. Within 30 days, 114,000 people from across the country signed Sina’s petition -- crossing the signature threshold needed for an official White House response.”

The White House policy team took up the request as promised and asked ‘How can we move this issue forward?’ They worked with the FCC and wireless carriers over the course of two years to reach voluntary agreements to provide consumers with additional flexibility. That helped motivate Congress to actually take action. The final legislation passed both Chambers unanimously this past month in the form of the UnlockingConsumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. President Obama made it official when signing it August 1, 2014.

Obama signs bill "unlocking" cell phones August 1, 2014
(Whitehouse.gov, 2014)

So what's next for Wethe People? This petition was a great case of the amazingonline organizing tools for petition creators to have their voices heard, and acted upon. The plan is to expand the usefulness of the petition page by removing the need to create an account just to sign a petition, eventually allowing people to sign petitions using new technologies, and on sites other than WhiteHouse.gov. Nice.

Change has happened over the course of the last 5 and a half years. Most often, Congress has not participated in making that change happen. In fact, they have made something of a habit of blocking change, any change. But some issues have moved forward. A wonky citizen might avail themselves of the petition site, and the chance to grab the President’s ear, as well as move his pen.

Here are the 19 Executive Orders Obama has written this year so far.

Executive Order 13656  Signed January 17, 2014
Establishment of Afghanistan and Pakistan Strategic Partnership 
Office and Amendment to Executive Order 12163 

Executive Order 13657 Signed February 10, 2014
Changing the Name of the National Security Staff 
to the National Security Council Staff 

Executive Order 13658 Signed February 12, 2014 
Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors

Executive Order 13659 Signed February 19, 2014
Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America's Businesses

Executive Order 13660 Signed March 6, 2014
Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine 

Executive Order 13661 Signed March 16, 2014
Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine

Executive Order 13662 Signed March 20, 2014
Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine

Executive Order 13663 Signed March 25, 2014
Establishing an Emergency Board to Investigate Disputes Between the Long Island Rail Road Company and Certain of Its Employees Represented by Certain Labor Organizations

Executive Order 13664 Signed April 3, 2014
Blocking Property of Certain Persons With Respect to South Sudan

Executive Order 13665 Signed April 8, 2014
Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information

Executive Order 13666 Signed April 18, 2014
Expanding Eligibility for the Defense Meritorious Service Medal

Executive Order 13667 Signed May 12, 2014
Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing
to the Conflict in the Central African Republic

Executive Order 13668 Signed May 27, 2014
Ending Immunities Granted to the Development Fund for
Iraq and Certain Other Iraqi Property and Interests in Property
Pursuant to GW Bush's Executive Order 13303, as Amended

Executive Order 13669 Signed June 13, 2014
2014 Amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States

Executive Order 13670 Signed June 14, 2014
Establishing an Emergency Board To Investigate Disputes Between
the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Certain
of Its Employees Represented by Certain Labor Organizations

Executive Order 13671 Signed July 8, 2014
Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency
With Respect to the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Executive Order 13672 Signed July 21, 2014
Further Amendments to Federal Equal Employment
Executive Orders 11478 and 11246

Executive Order Signed August 5, 2014
Establishing the President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

Executive Order Signed July 31, 2014
Revised List of Quarantinable Communicable Diseases

Executive Order Signed July 31, 2014
Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

Here are the total number of 186 Executive Orders written by Obama listed by year. They also link to a complete list of the Executive Orders for the previous years –

In 2009 he signed 39 Executive orders
In 2010 he signed 35 Executive orders
In 2011 he signed 34 Executive order
In 2012 he signed 39 Executive order
In 2013 he signed 20 Executive order
In 2014 he has signed 19 Executive orders

Policy Geeks have more access, worldwide, to this information than ever before. All that’s needed is an interface, and the desire to learn. SO blanket statements by the GOP saying that President Obama has inked more Orders than any other President, or that his policies are too far reaching, sort of hit a deaf ear once you’ve read them for yourself. Do you see anything you would protest about? Something worth suing the President for? Anything worth crying out for Impeachment, Impeachment, Impeachment?! We don’t. 

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