Consider this item from today's Wall Street Journal.
The Treasury Secretary yesterday predicted that the government debt limit would have to be lifted by the end of February. According to the Journal, some conservative Republicans -- chastened but not deterred by the public reaction to the last government shutdown -- are exploring potential concessions they might extract for agreeing to raise the debt limit.
One potentially attractive demand is changing an element of the Affordable Care Act known as "risk corridors." Those are payments which help offset the risks insurers assume in selling policies to all comers, without regard to things like pre-existing conditions.
Few voters know or care what a risk corridor is, but they overwhelmingly favor the elimination of pre-existing conditions. In less skillful hands, that would seem to make this argument a non-starter. But that's where the rhetorical brilliance comes in.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, side-stepped the intricacies of risk corridors and pre-existing conditions and focused on these poll-tested facts:
- Americans think the government has too much debt.
- They don't like insurance companies.
- They hate government bailouts.
- They're suspicious of China.
With all the embroidering skill that went into the Bayeux tapestry, Mr. Scalise came up with the following:
"We shouldn't be bailing out insurance companies
with money that's borrowed from China."
Thirteen words any fifth-grader could understand and a master class in how to structure an argument.
Liberal or conservative, you have to admire the rhetorical skill.