For decades, the politics of higher education have followed familiar lines: Democrats champion higher Pell Grants for needy families, tuition tax credits for the middle class, and cheaper student loans paid for by cutting banks out of the system. Republicans advocate more modest Pell Grant increases and, with a few exceptions, protect the student-loan banks that enjoy a lucrative, risk-free business. President Barack Obama is following the traditional playbook. He has proposed increasing Pell Grants significantly and throwing the banks completely out of the student-loan program. Loans instead would be made directly by the government. "We should not be in the business of propping up banks," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters in April.