The left-wing New York Times editorial board supported President Biden’s campaign and celebrated his victory, but mild criticism of his spate of executive actions drew a rebuke from Biden’s communications director Thursday morning.
Chummily headlined, “Ease up on the Executive Actions, Joe,” the editorial board admonished him against relying too heavily on executive orders. Biden has signed dozens since taking office last week, addressing issues from climate change to coronavirus to overseas abortions to cancelling the Keystone Pipeline.
“But this is no way to make law,” the board wrote. “A polarized, narrowly divided Congress may offer Mr. Biden little choice but to employ executive actions or see his entire agenda held hostage. These directives, however, are a flawed substitute for legislation. They are intended to provide guidance to the government and need to work within the discretion granted the executive by existing law or the Constitution … [T]hey are not meant to serve as an end run around the will of Congress. By design, such actions are more limited in what they can achieve than legislation, and presidents who overreach invite intervention by the courts.”
Indeed, executive orders can be wiped away with a stroke of the next president’s pen, as former President Barack Obama saw with his successor Donald Trump, and now Trump with Biden.
“Undoing some of Mr. Trump’s excesses is necessary, but Mr. Biden’s legacy will depend on his ability to hammer out agreements with Congress,” the board wrote.
While the newspaper framed its criticism sympathetically, communications director Kate Bedingfield cried foul on Twitter.
“As the NYT ed board criticizes President Biden this [morning] for taking swift executive action to reverse the most egregious actions of the Trump Admin, I can’t help but recall that during the primary they encouraged voters to consider what a president could accomplish through exec Action,” she tweeted. “So my question is which actions that the President took to reverse Donald Trump’s executive orders would they have liked to see him not pursue?”
Bedingfield added “of course” the Biden administration was pursuing its agenda through legislation. Democrats have full control of Washington for the first time in a decade with slim majorities in the House and Senate.
Although it threw its support behind Biden in the general election, the Times editorial board did not endorse Biden for the Democratic nomination. It instead picked both Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who would go on to win a combined zero primaries.