Charles Blahous

Visiting Fellow

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


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? 


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.


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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No Teens Need Apply

by Charles Blahousvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 9, 2018

A high minimum wage keeps teenagers out of the job market, robbing them of crucial experience and lowering their future earnings.


Social Security, Medicare Ships’ Hulls Now Taking On Water – And Far Sooner Than Projected

by Charles Blahousvia CNSNews
Friday, June 8, 2018

The 2018 Social Security and Medicare trustees’ reports have been released. For the first time in several years they contain some big (in addition to their usual bad) news: the combined Social Security trust funds and the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund will begin drawing down their reserves this year, on their respective ways to eventual depletion.


The Social Security Trust Fund Goes Bust

by Charles Blahousvia The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, June 7, 2018

[Subscription Required] The downward spirals have begun. The combined Social Security trust funds—one for disability, one for retirement—as well as Medicare's hospital-insurance trust fund, will begin eating into their reserves this year, according to reports released this week by the programs' trustees.

Analysis and Commentary

Rising Entitlement Spending Is Straining The Budget

by Charles Blahousvia E21
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

An impassioned argument has broken out during the last few weeks over the federal budget. It was precipitated by an op-ed piece in the Washington Post by five prominent economists from the Hoover Institution, warning of a coming debt crisis and pointing the finger of blame at runaway federal entitlement spending.