John F. Cogan

Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow
Biography: 

John F. Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a faculty member in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University.

Cogan is an expert in domestic policy.  His current research is focused on U.S. budget and fiscal policy, federal entitlement programs, and health care.  He has published widely in professional journals in both economics and political science.  His latest book, The High Cost of Good Intentions: A History of U.S. Federal Entitlement Programs was published in September 2017.  The book traces the history of U.S. 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, coauthored with Glenn Hubbard and Daniel Kessler, and The Budget Puzzle, (with Timothy Muris and Allen Schick).

At Stanford, he has served on faculty advisory boards for the Stanford-in-Washington campus and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. He is a recipient of the Stanford-in-Government's Distinguished Service Award.

Cogan has devoted a considerable part of his career to public service. He served as assistant secretary for policy in the U.S. Department of Labor from 1981 to 1983. From 1983 to 1985, he served as associate director in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and was appointed Deputy Director in 1988. His responsibilities included developing and reviewing all health, housing, education, and employment training programs and policies.

Cogan has served on numerous congressional, presidential, and California state advisory commissions. He served on the California State Commission on the 21st Century Economy and the California Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission.  He has served on President George W. Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, the U.S. 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.

Cogan serves on the board of directors of Gilead Sciences where he is the Lead Independent Director and on the board of trustees of the Charles Schwab Family of Funds where he is Chairman of the Governance Committee.

Cogan received his A.B. in 1969 and his Ph.D. in 1976 from the University of California at Los Angeles, both in economics.  He received his M.A. in Economics from California State University at 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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Recent Commentary

The 1996 House Elections: Reaffirming the Conservative Trend

by John F. Cogan, David Bradyvia Analysis
Saturday, March 1, 1997

Before last November's election, the conventional wisdom was that Republicans would experience large losses in Congress. The party of Newt Gingrich had supposedly put its majority at risk by pursuing an aggressive legislative agenda that was too extreme for mainstream America. Many pundits argued that the Republican majority would suffer the same as its predecessors in 1948 and 1954: two years and out.
 

But the electorate confounded the experts by reelecting a GOP House majority for the first time since 1930. How did conventional wisdom miss the mark so badly? This essay provides an assessment of the November House elections.
 

Republicans in the 104th Congress had the most conservative voting record of any Congress in the post-World War II era. Its record for conservative voting shattered the previous record set by Republicans in 1949. Voters registered their overwhelming approval of this agenda by returning 92 percent of the incumbent House Republicans to office. Our statistical analysis reveals no evidence that House Republicans who did lose were defeated because of their support for conservative votes. In fact, Republican winners had slightly more conservative voting records than losers. This holds even when the analysis is confined to Republicans in moderate-to-liberal congressional districts. Likewise, there is no evidence that voting for the Contract with America harmed reelection prospects of Republicans from moderate-to-liberal districts. Finally, there is no statistical evidence that organized labor' s $35 million campaign had any impact on election outcomes involving Republican freshmen.
 

Continued conservative dominance of Congress seems likely for the remainder of this century. In every off-year presidential election since the Civil War, except one, the party of the president has lost seats in the House. Republicans continue to run well in southern and border states and are in a position to continue to gain seats in these regions. Democratic members are expected to continue to retire at higher rates than Republican members.

How the Budget Would Have Balanced

by John F. Coganvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

Hoover fellow John F. Cogan does the arithmetic.

The Minimum Wage Was High in the First Place

by Thomas E. MaCurdy, John F. Coganvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

Hoover fellows John F. Cogan and Thomas E. MaCurdy argue that when Congress and the president hiked the minimum wage last summer, they were making a dumb mistake. The hike hurt those it was intended to help and helped those who didn't need it. And the effective minimum wage rate was already at a historic high in the first place.

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