President Barack Obama announced steps Monday that he says will make student loans more affordable. That may be good midterm politics, but his tinkering isn't much help for a system of college financing that's spinning out of control.
Obama will give more student borrowers access to income-based repayment plans, which cap monthly loan payments at 10 percent of a borrower's income. He also urged Congress to pass a bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, that would reduce interest rates on student loans by letting borrowers refinance.
If the aim is simply to make student loans as cheap as possible, then these changes earn full points. But how much use is that by itself? Student loans are already affordable compared with other types of credit; making them cheaper still will fuel more borrowing and leave taxpayers on the hook for more of the tab. (Warren's bill would cost $51 billion over 10 years, paid for by increasing taxes on high earners.)