Charles Blahous

Research Fellow
Biography: 

Charles Blahous, a Hoover research fellow, currently serves as one of the two public trustees for the Social Security and Medicare Programs. Specializing in domestic economic policy, his areas of expertise include retirement security, with an emphasis on Social Security and employer-provided defined benefit pensions, as well as federal fiscal policy, entitlements, demographic change, economic stimulus, financial market regulation, and health care reform.

From 2007 to 2009, Blahous served as deputy director of President Bush's National Economic Council. From 2001 to 2007, he served as a special assistant to the president for economic policy, first covering retirement security issues and later encompassing energy policy. In 2001, he served as the executive director of the bipartisan President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security.

From 2000 to 2001, Blahous led the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, a private-sector coalition dedicated to the fiscally responsible reform of Social Security. From 1996 to 2000, he served as policy director for US senator Judd Gregg (R-NH). From 1989 to 1996, he served in the office of Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), first as a Congressional Science Fellow sponsored by the American Physical Society and, from 1994 to 1996, as the senator's legislative director.

Blahous’s latest publications include Social Security: The Unfinished Work (Hoover Press, 2010) and Pension Wise: Confronting Employer Pension Underfunding—and Sparing Taxpayers the Next Bailout (Hoover Press, 2010). He is also the author of Reforming Social Security. He has published in a number of periodicals including National Affairs, Financial Times, Politico, National Review, Harvard Journal of Legislation, Baseball Research Journal, and the Journal of Chemical Physics. He was named to SmartMoney's "Power 30" list in 2005. His public appearances include various radio and television programs including "Ask the White House," and speeches on university and college campuses.

Blahous has a PhD in computational quantum chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and an AB from Princeton University, where he won the McKay Prize in Physical Chemistry.

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Recent Commentary

Featured Commentary

Mindless Yes, Austerity No: The Real Budget Problem

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Thursday, February 19, 2015

When his budget proposals were recently released, President Obama stated, “I want to work with Congress to replace mindless austerity with smart investments that strengthen America.” That quotation neatly summarizes how the White House is framing the basic trade-off faced in federal budgeting: between “austerity” (i.e., severe cuts in spending and deficits) and “investments” (i.e., spending on things needed to support future prosperity)...

Featured Commentary

Warning: Disability Insurance Is Hitting the Wall

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Thursday, January 15, 2015

For years Social Security’s trustees (of which I am one) have warned that lawmakers must act to address the troubled finances of the program’s disability insurance (DI) trust fund.   Congress has nearly run out of time to do so.  Legislation will be required during this Congress or, at the very latest, in a rush at the beginning of the next one, to prevent large sudden benefit cuts.

Featured Commentary

Picking The Right CBO Director

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Monday, January 5, 2015

With the term of current Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Doug Elmendorf expiring, incoming House Budget Committee chairman Tom Price, along with soon-to-be-named Senate Budget Committee chairman Mike Enzi, will need to choose the agency’s next director.

Young Adults
Featured Commentary

Gruber And Barro Are Wrong To Assume The Public Is Stupid

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A ton of virtual ink has been spilled over Obama Administration advisor Jonathan Gruber’s admission that he and others intentionally misportrayed the effects of the Affordable Care Act to facilitate its passage.

Featured Commentary

Congress Can Fix the ACA With These 3 Principles

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Monday, November 10, 2014

The Affordable Care Act presents the incoming Congress with substantive and political challenges. On the one hand its widely-acknowledged problems warrant repair, and the electorate has made its displeasure with it loud and clear. On the other hand, the whole ACA will not be repealed while there is power-sharing between a Republican Congress and a Democratic administration. Consequently this Congress will need to be very clear-sighted about what it can fix and what it cannot. 

Featured Commentary

Budget Committee Report Confirms the ACA Worsens the Deficit

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Monday, November 3, 2014

A recent Senate Budget Committee (SBC) Republican report about the fiscal effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or so-called “Obamacare”) has stimulated public and press interest.

Featured Commentary

Losing Employer-Provided Coverage: Another ACA Prediction Comes True

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This past week provided an important example of the anticipated effects of the Affordable Care Act coming to pass. Walmart has announced that it will no longer offer health insurance for 26,000 part-time workers, prompting a piece at Vox recognizing that this termination of coverage occurred because “Obamacare changes the calculus on getting coverage at work” and noting that “the loser in the Walmart decision is the federal budget.”

Featured Commentary

Sorry NYT, the Medicare Cost Problem Remains Unsolved

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Thursday, September 18, 2014

On August 28 the New York Times published a provocative article entitled “Medicare: Not Such a Budget Buster Anymore.” Its thesis was that Medicare no longer poses the budgetary threat it was projected to just a few years ago (the New York Times piece contrasts current projections with those made in 2006), thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act and other changes in the healthcare sector.

Healthcare Costs
Featured Commentary

A Guide to the 2014 Medicare Trustees Report

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Each year there is enormous (I would say excessive) press interest in the projected date of depletion of Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund. 

Social Security
Featured Commentary

A Guide to the 2014 Social Security Trustees Report

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Monday, August 4, 2014

On Monday, July 28, the Social Security trustees released our annual analysis of the program’s financial condition (the full report can be found here, a summary here, and a video of our press conference here). 

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