Skye Gould/Business Insider
President Donald Trump signed more bills into law in his first
100 days than his last three predecessors, but that doesn’t mean
he got more done.
Franklin D. Roosevelt is the reason people focus on a president’s
Signing a dizzying number of laws and executive orders that made
up the monstrous New Deal, FDR got more done in his first 100
days in office than any president before him or any since.
Part of the reason was because he took office in the depths of
the Great Depression, and used his “honeymoon period” with
Congress to stabilize the economy.
to enact their agenda. Studies
found that it’s the most productive time for legislative
Of course, presidents
don’t have total control over their time in office.
“It helps to keep in mind that neither Trump nor Obama wrote the
laws they signed,” Josh Tauberer, founder of the legislative
GovTrack, told Business Insider. “They can only sign the
bills that Congress gives them, and although presidents like to
take lots of credit, they actually have an insignificant role in
the passage of most of them.”
Trump’s 100th day in office was Saturday, and he did sign more
laws than presidents Bill Clinton, George W.
Bush, Barack Obama.
But the overall number is just part of the story. The vast
differences between the number of pages or words those bills
contained start to reveal what types of laws they were and what
effects they ultimately had.
Tauberer explained that, generally speaking, bills with more
words usually create government programs, while those with fewer
are often rolling back regulations or programs. Obama’s stimulus
package to keep the government funded had 358,113, and the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had 294,307.
In his first 100 days, Trump signed a
NASA bill to send humans to Mars, and a resolution to keep
the government funded and prevent a shutdown for another week.
The bill tied to his effort to repeal and replace the Affordable
Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare)
failed to get a vote in the House.
Skye Gould/Business Insider
It’s worth noting that the
White House’s press release touting Trump’s accomplishments
in 100 days versus those of his predecessors cited the wrong
number of laws for Obama and Clinton. It may have relied on
article that used data from a
study that measured laws passed during Congress’s first 100
days, not the presidents.’
The number of pages or words in laws can be a good or bad
thing, depending on what you want the federal government to do.
“If what you want is the government to roll back and simplify
regulations, then you’re not looking for lengthly legislation. It
doesn’t take many words to roll back a regulation,”
Tauberer said. “The 13 bills from Congress that
Trump signed that rolled back regulations did do that, and some
were significant, but on the whole that was a symbolic effort
because 13 doesn’t make even a dent.”