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


The Costs (Administrative And Otherwise) Of Medicare For All

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Thursday, October 12, 2017

Last month the Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler tackled a favorite talking point of “Medicare for All” (M4A) advocates: that M4A would save Americans money by replacing the high administrative costs of private health insurance with the low administrative costs of Medicare. Kessler’s treatment was even-handed, but a fuller understanding of the issue requires more details than can be fit into a newspaper column. This piece attempts to fill some of the information gaps evident in the ongoing, surrounding debate. Spoiler alert: Medicare’s administrative cost percentages are indeed low, but the total costs of M4A would nevertheless be quite high.


Cutting Obamacare Subsidies Would Benefit Poor, Says CBO

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Congressional Budget Office has issued a new report on the projected effects of terminating cost-sharing reduction subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act, as President Trump has repeatedly threatened to do. These findings are counterintuitive and surprising.

Social Security

Why This Social Security Budget Nightmare Must Be Resolved Now

by Charles Blahous, Robert Reischauervia CNBC
Monday, July 10, 2017

Lawmakers in Washington are consumed in bitter partisan battles over healthcare, tax, budget, and infrastructure policy, disputes that threaten to sever any remaining threads of bipartisanship. But when the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds release their 2017 reports, expected this summer, the nation will be reminded that we face an even more consequential policy challenge: How to ensure that Social Security and Medicare will be able to provide reliable support to the millions of elderly and disabled Americans who are counting on benefits.

Analysis and Commentary

The Spurious “People Will Die” Claim

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Passions are high in the national health care debate. Some supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have taken to asserting that hundreds of thousands of “people will die” if it is repealed or significantly altered. These claims do not withstand scrutiny, and those who wish their policy arguments to be taken seriously would be well advised to avoid them.

Analysis and Commentary

Surpassing Expectations, Projected Medicaid Expansion Costs Just Rose Again

by Charles Blahousvia CNSNews
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Earlier this month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) actuary published a score of the House bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Contained within that score is a concerning update of CMS’s projections for the costs of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Incredibly, the latest projections now indicate that per capita expansion costs will remain more than 50 percent higher, through 2022, than previously projected.

Analysis and Commentary

Why The Fear-Mongering On Medicaid Is Totally Overblown

by Charles Blahousvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Over the past several days, Americans have been told that the sponsors of pending health legislation are moving to victimize the most vulnerable people in our society, indifferent to potentially lethal consequences.


Medicaid Scare Tactics Are Irresponsible

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Thursday, June 22, 2017

If we want to make headway on improving public policy discourse, a good place to start might be with how we’re debating Medicaid policy, in particular how it might be affected by pending legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including legislation presented on Thursday by Senate Republicans.


Obamacare Is Not Making Healthcare More Affordable

by Charles Blahousvia Economics One
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Despite its name and despite some of the more grandiose claims by its supporters, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is failing to make healthcare costs more affordable. Indeed, it’s possible that the ACA has achieved less than nothing with respect to health cost affordability -- meaning less even than a hypothetical scenario in which it had never been enacted.

Analysis and Commentary

Pre-Existing Conditions: Who Should Pay?

by Charles Blahousvia e21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Monday, May 1, 2017

Among the most vexing of our national health care policy challenges is the question of who should pay (and how) for the medical care of those with pre-existing health conditions.  Advocates propose a broad array of answers to this question, explanations of which rapidly grow complicated. 


How To Repair ObamaCare’s Fiscal Damage

by Charles Blahousvia Wall Street Journal
Thursday, March 16, 2017

Repealing the Affordable Care Act could reduce the federal deficit as much as $1 trillion over a decade.