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

Analysis and Commentary

Minimum Wage Increases Are Harming People They Were Meant to Help

by Charles Blahousvia CNS News
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

One of the leading economic policy challenges of our time is the persistent decline in workforce participation among working-age Americans. Economists from left to right have cited declining workforce growth as one of the principal barriers to our future economic growth, and thus to our future prosperity.

Analysis and Commentary

Now More Than Ever, Social Security And Medicare Need Their Public Trustees

by Charles Blahous, Robert Reischauervia Roll Call (DC)
Monday, January 22, 2018

Lost in Washington’s political cacophony is the alarming erosion of the financial foundations of Social Security and Medicare. Focused on more immediate crises and reluctant to touch this “third rail” of politics, today’s lawmakers, like many before them, have avoided even discussing the inevitable painful adjustments they will be forced to make.

Analysis and Commentary

It’s Long Past Time To Deal With Entitlements

by Charles Blahousvia The Lima News
Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018 is an election year, which means there are long odds against comprehensive entitlement spending reforms being enacted anytime soon. After all, there is a long, regrettable history of irresponsible campaign rhetoric on this subject, and it’s simply too easy to misattribute any near-term initiative to causes ranging from mean-spiritedness to ideological fervor to tax cuts. 

Analysis and Commentary

Yes, It’s Possible to Be for Lower Taxes And Smaller Deficits

by Charles Blahousvia CNSNews
Friday, January 12, 2018

One needn’t support the recently-enacted tax legislation to be disturbed by the tenor of much criticism of it. Many opponents, and indeed some press reporting, took for granted that if one voted for a significant tax cut after having expressed longstanding concerns about federal deficits, one must be an irredeemable hypocrite. But lower taxes and smaller deficits can coexist.

Football in motion over grass

The College Football Playoff System Stinks: Cinderella's Deserve A Chance

by Charles Blahousvia
Thursday, January 4, 2018

This coming Monday night, college football powerhouses Alabama and Georgia will meet in the sport’s purported “National Championship Game.” This year’s matchup is embarrassingly marred by the fact that Alabama and Georgia each lost earlier this season to Auburn, which was itself just beaten by Central Florida (UCF) in the Peach Bowl. UCF’s victory over Auburn put the crowning touch on its undefeated season, prompting athletic director Danny White to tweak Alabama, Georgia and the whole NCAA by declaring UCF to be “national champions.”

Analysis and Commentary

Taxpayers Shouldn’t Pay For Corporate And Union Pension Promises

by Charles Blahousvia E21
Sunday, December 17, 2017

My recent column for Economics21 provided a factual overview of the worsening crisis in multiemployer pension plan underfunding, and a general explanation of why using taxpayer dollars to bail out these plans is a bad idea. Since then, rumors have swirled that lawmakers may try to jam a massive taxpayer-financed bailout of multiemployer pensions into an end-of-year budget deal. 


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.