They don't spell it out in much detail, but I think National Review's editors may have just endorsed Barack Obama's program to reform federal student lending, which I promoted on the Plank a few weeks ago. In an article called "Beyond 'No'," not yet available online, Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru--who have quietly been trying to reform conservatism around a "Sam's Club Republican" agenda--propose a multipoint strategy to win back the middle class. One of their suggestions deals with student loans:

The cost of college is another source of great anxiety for families and young adults. Policymakers can reduce that anxiety by simplifying financial-aid formulas, by replacing subsidized loans with direct grants as much as possible, and by expanding tax breaks for college savings.

Other NR writers have been more friendly to private lending plans in the past, so maybe Lowry and Ponnuru are referring to one of those policy approaches, but it sure doesn't seem like it. If indeed the pair are backing a switch to direct federal lending, then it's a sign that fair-minded people on both ends of the political spectrum understand how much of a gigantic boondoggle the current system is.

--Barron YoungSmith