The White House turned to its petition site We the People late Thursday to combat Republican criticisms of President Obama’s two-year-old healthcare overhaul.
Around the same time that the House of Representatives voted for the 37th time to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the White House posted responses to two citizen petitions attacking the legislation, both of them about six months old.
The first petition asked the administration to “repeal Obamacare” because it is “killing jobs in this country.” The White House response called the notion that the Affordable Care Act will damage the economy “a myth” and outlined elements of the law it said would give small businesses and middle class consumers better coverage and more flexibility.
The second petition asked the White House to allow individual citizens to opt out of the healthcare law’s provisions. The White House responded that the healthcare act won’t require anyone to change or abandon their current healthcare plan.
The White House has pledged to respond to any petitions that receive more than 100,000 signatures, but some petitions have waited months or more than a year for a response. The average petition that reaches the signature threshold waits about three months for a response, roughly half as long as the healthcare petitions waited.
The White House has often used the 20-month-old We the People site to announce new policy positions or to defend existing positions on topics in the news. The president responded personally to 32 petitions seeking stricter or looser gun control policies just a week after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults.