John F. Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His research is focused on US budget and fiscal policy and federal entitlement programs. He has published widely in professional journals in both economics and political science. His latest book, The High Cost of Good Intentions (2017) is the recipient of the 2018 Hayek Prize. The book traces the history of US federal entitlement programs from the Revolutionary War to modern times. His previous books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Five Steps to a Better Health Care System (2005), coauthored with Glenn Hubbard and Daniel P. Kessler, and The Budget Puzzle (1994), with Timothy J. Muris and Allen Schick.

At Stanford, he taught classes in the Economics Department, the Graduate School of Business, and the Public Policy Program, where he was a faculty member from 1994 to 2019. He also served on faculty advisory boards for the Stanford in Washington Program and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. He is a recipient of the Stanford-in-Government's Distinguished Service Award and the Stanford Review’s Best Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Cogan has devoted a considerable part of his career to public service. He served under President Ronald Reagan as assistant secretary for policy in the US Department of Labor from 1981 to 1983, and in the US Office of Management and Budget, as associate director from 1983 to 1985 and as deputy director from 1988 to 1989.

He was appointed to numerous congressional, presidential, and California state advisory commissions. He was a member of President George W. Bush’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, the US Bipartisan Commission on Health Care (the Pepper Commission), the Social Security Notch Commission, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance. He was also a member of the California State Commission on the 21st-Century Economy and the California Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission.

Cogan served on the board of directors of Monaco Coach Corporation from 2006 to 2009; the board of directors of Gilead Sciences from 2006 to 2020 (lead independent director, 2013–2020); and on the board of trustees of the Charles Schwab Family of Funds from 2009 to 2021 (chairman, Governance Committee 2014–2020).

Cogan received his AB in 1969 and his PhD in 1976 from the University of California–Los Angeles, both in economics. He received his MA in economics from California State University–Long Beach in 1970. He was an associate economist at the RAND Corporation from 1975 to 1980. In 1979, Cogan was appointed a national fellow at the Hoover Institution; in 1980 he was appointed a senior research fellow; and in 1984 he became a senior fellow.

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High Cost

The High Cost of Good Intentions

Federal entitlement programs are strewn throughout the pages of U.S. history, springing from the noble purpose of assisting people who are destitute through no fault of their own. Yet as federal entitlement programs have grown, so too have their inefficiency and their cost. Neither tax revenues nor revenues generated by the national economy have been able to keep pace with their rising growth, bringing the national debt to a record peacetime level.


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