Besides executive orders, there are “executive actions.”
“They’re not the only measure of presidential assertion of authority,” said Kenneth Mayer, a University of Wisconsin political science professor who has studied the presidency extensively. “He’s actually been pretty aggressive on a number of fronts.”
Instead of executive orders, Obama has enacted policy shifts through informal “executive actions” on issues like gun control, immigration and drone strikes overseas.
His 2011 decision to halt the deportations of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, for example, was communicated via a memo from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“Clearly, she was acting as an instrument of the president,” said Mayer, who penned a book on executive power entitled, “With the Stroke of a Pen.”