Obama agenda: Obamacare’s P.R. fight

“Eager to counter Republicans intent on repealing his health care law, President Barack Obama will argue that it’s working and hold up as proof half a billion dollars in rebates insurance companies are sending to some 8.5 million consumers as a result,” the AP writes. “At the White House on Thursday, Obama will argue that his Affordable Care Act is holding insurance companies accountable and putting money back into the pockets of consumers. The rebates average about $100, spokesman Jay Carney said. Obama was arguing his case a day after the Republican-controlled House voted for the 38th time to eliminate, cut funding or scale back the 3-year-old law since the GOP took control of the House in January 2011.”

The Hill: “The Obama administration has added roughly $33 million to a contract with a public relations firm to help promote President Obama's signature healthcare law. A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said the extra money was added to a contract with the PR firm Weber Shandwick. The money will help promote the healthcare law's insurance exchanges and encourage people to enroll in new coverage options.”

The AP: “In 1999, a fresh-faced state senator on Chicago’s South Side heard constituents complain that police were free to pull over drivers because they were black. So Barack Obama proposed a bill to tackle racial profiling. When it failed, he revised it and proposed it again and again… More than a decade later, Obama’s efforts to pass groundbreaking racial profiling legislation in Illinois offer some of the clearest clues as to how America’s first black president feels about an issue that’s polarizing a nation roiled by the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin. Obama has spoken only rarely about his own experience with incidents he perceived to be race-related… Obama’s administration has treated gingerly the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot Martin. Burned in the past by injecting himself into racial flare-ups, Obama is wary of taking sides this time after, in his words, ‘a jury has spoken.’”

Americans United for Change goes up with a cable ad defending ObamaCare, called, “Hands Off, ObamaCare.”

Michael Tomasky: “The IRS ‘scandal,’ lately dormant, is returning soon to a cable-news channel near you: tomorrow, Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general who produced the original report at Darrell Issa’s request, is going back before Issa’s committee, and this time he’s in for some pretty serious grilling from Democrats. The evidence is now even more preponderant than it already was that there was absolutely no political agenda in the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) applications. In fact, evidence is mounting that if anyone was behaving politically here, it was George—and, of course, Issa and the other Republicans who launched into their baseless tirades about ‘enemies lists’ and other such nonsense.”

More: “And what about the mainstream media that swallowed whole from the Republican-conservative spoon, running huge headlines and ominous editorials, all those breathy stories that got nearly half the American public believing, on the basis of zero hard evidence, that the White House was involved here? It’s not in the nature of the beast to run huge headlines saying “No Scandal Here.” But it should be in the beast’s nature to take a much harder look at Issa, George, and the other perpetuators of this non-story. And it should start tomorrow, when George testifies.”

Politico runs five questions for the inspector general: “J. Russell George isn’t used to being on the hot seat, but that’s likely to change on Thursday. A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the IRS scandal will give Democrats an opportunity to slam the Treasury inspector general, who helped fuel anger at the agency after releasing a report in May that described unfair scrutiny being applied to tea party groups.”

The Hill: “The White House for the second day in a row signaled President Obama could scrap planned one-on-one talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month in Moscow if Edward Snowden is granted asylum in that country.”

The USOC and Republican House Speaker John Boehner, by the way, disagree with Lindsey Graham that the U.S. should consider boycotting the Winter Olympics in Russia if Snowden’s granted asylum.

A drone crashed on a Florida highway.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito quintupled his net worth last year.