The Lure of Executive Orders: Easy to Implement, but Just as Easy to Cancel

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WASHINGTON — As President Donald J. Trump boarded the plane to Florida on Wednesday, he cast his achievements as sweeping, ambitious and, above all, enduring — a few hours before his successor began demolishing that legacy at breakneck speed.

“We’ve accomplished so much together,” Mr. Trump told a crowd of his supporters, ticking off what he believed to be his top policy successes on immigration, deregulation, veterans affairs and taxes — adding, “We were not a regular administration.”

The passage of Mr. Trump’s 2017 tax bill and his appointment of three justices to the Supreme Court are clearly his most enduring accomplishments. But many of Mr. Trump’s other signature actions were enacted via executive fiat, making them especially vulnerable to rapid reversal the same way — by an executive order.

President Biden, a more experienced Washington operator, is not using the process to build his legacy, as Mr. Trump tried to do, but as a means of erasing Mr. Trump’s.

In his first 48 hours in office, Mr. Biden cranked out about 30 executive orders, of which 14 target a broad range of Trump executive mandates, with the remainder aimed at implementing emergency measures intended to deal with the pandemic and the economic crisis.

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