Charles Blahous

Visiting Fellow
Biography: 

Charles Blahous is a Hoover visiting fellow 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 2010 to 2015, Blahous served as one of the two public trustees for the Social Security and Medicare Programs. From 2007 to 2009, he served as deputy director of President Bush's National Economic Council. From 2001 to 2007, Blahous 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

In the News

U.S. Consumption Tax of 5% Could Raise $3 Trillion Over A Decade

quoting Charles Blahousvia Bloomberg
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Many countries, including members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, raise revenue with a consumption tax levied on incremental increases in the value of goods and services as they move through the supply chain. These value-added taxes -- VAT for short -- generate considerable income and are relatively efficient to administer.

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Running on Empty

by Charles Blahousvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 25, 2019

The Social Security shortfall has been mounting for years, and soon it will pass the point of no return. We need either a radical overhaul or a new source of funds.

Analysis and Commentary

Increased Workforce Participation Alone Won’t Fix Social Security Finances

by Charles Blahousvia Economics One
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Last month, Morgan Stanley published a research report projecting that US labor force growth will exceed Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections starting in the 2020s, and also asserting that this faster growth “should” delay Social Security’s insolvency, “perhaps by decades.” Specifically, the report stated that “a faster increase in the pool of covered workers is an important factor in the Social Security Trustees’ ‘low cost’ scenario, which would delay the date at which the Social Security trust fund reserves could become depleted from 2034 to 2062.”

Analysis and Commentary

Averting The Multiemployer Pension Solvency Crisis

by Charles Blahousvia Mercatus Center
Friday, October 19, 2018

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) multiemployer pension insurance program faces projected insolvency, driven by systemic underfunding of multiemployer pension plans. To address this brewing crisis, Congress has established a joint select committee to develop multiemployer pension reforms.

Featured

How Much Would Medicare For All Cut Doctor And Hospital Reimbursements?

by Charles Blahousvia Economics 21
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

On July 31, I published a study with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimating the added costs to the federal government of establishing a national single-payer healthcare system. That study presented a lower-bound estimate of $32.6 trillion in added federal costs over the first 10 years of full implementation, with the caveats that this estimate reflected several extremely favorable assumptions, and that actual costs were likely to be substantially higher. 

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Social Security’s Downward Spiral

by Charles Blahousvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, August 23, 2018

The program promises benefits far in excess of its projected revenues. Why haven't lawmakers acted? 

Featured

Questions And Answers About Medicare For All’s Costs

by Charles Blahousvia Economics 21
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

My recently-published estimate of the federal costs of Medicare for All (M4A) continues to receive widespread public and press attention. The ongoing discussion has prompted a number of common questions about the study, which this article attempts to answer.

Featured

Even Doubling Taxes Wouldn’t Pay For ‘Medicare For All’

by Charles Blahousvia The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
The idea of “Medicare for All” has energized progressives ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Analysis and Commentary

The Costs Of A National Single-Payer Healthcare System

by Charles Blahousvia Mercatus Center
Monday, July 30, 2018

The leading current Senate bill to establish single-payer health insurance in the United States is that of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). It’s called the Medicare for All Act, or M4A.

Analysis and Commentary

Using Social Security To Finance Paid Parental Leave Is A Fatally Problematic Idea

by Charles Blahousvia CNS News
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

On July 11 the Social Security Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the importance of paid family leave for working American families.  The Social Security Subcommittee will likely examine recent proposals to use the Social Security system to finance a paid parental leave benefit. 

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