Charles Blahous

Charles Blahous

  • Director of Spending and Budget Initiative
  • Senior Research Fellow

Charles Blahous is the director of the Spending and Budget Initiative, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and has served as a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare. He specializes in domestic economic policy and retirement security (with an emphasis on Social Security), as well as federal fiscal policy, entitlements, demographic change, and health-care reform.

Blahous’s media appearances range from The Diane Rehm Show and Fox News to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. He was named to SmartMoney’s “Power 30” list in 2005 and has written for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times, Politico, National Review, Harvard Journal on Legislation, and National Affairs, among others.

Blahous is the author of Social Security: The Unfinished Work and Pension Wise: Confronting Employer Pension Underfunding and Sparing Taxpayers the Next Bailout, as well as the influential study,“The Fiscal Consequences of the Affordable Care Act.”

He was formerly the deputy director of President Bush’s National Economic Council, special assistant to the president for economic policy, and executive director of the bipartisan President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security.

Blahous received his PhD in computational quantum chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and his BA from Princeton University.

Published Research

Charles Blahous, Jason J. Fichtner, Mark J. Warshawsky | Mar 19, 2015
Social Security’s trustees have long warned Congress to address the troubled finances of the Disability Insurance (DI) program. Given the DI trust fund’s projected exhaustion date of 2016, legislation will be required during this Congress to prevent large, sudden benefit cuts.
Charles Blahous | Jan 14, 2014
According to a new paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the slowdown in health care cost growth is extremely unlikely to solve Medicare’s financing problems. Indeed, such a suggestion primarily reflects an incomplete understanding of how current Medicare cost projections are done.
Charles Blahous | Nov 14, 2013
In a new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Charles P. Blahous, a Mercatus senior research fellow and public trustee for Medicare and Social Security, examines the causes of federal deficits by systematically examining the federal budget itself, quantifying all contributions to the deficit regardless of when they were enacted.
Charles Blahous | Mar 05, 2013
In the wake of a 2012 Supreme Court ruling, states face complex decisions concerning whether to expand Medicaid coverage to the full extent envisioned in the Affordable Care Act (ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare). With the federal government no longer able to coerce expansion, states must base their decisions on value judgments that incorporate each state’s unique budgetary circumstances, the needs of its uninsured population, and the incentives established by interactions among the ACA’s provisions.

Working Papers

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Expert Commentary

Oct 05, 2015

The Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac plan tax” has been much in the news of late. A motley collection of health sector companies, conservative ACA opponents, labor unions and presidential candidates is working for repeal. On the other side101 health policy experts recently wrote to urge Congress to retain the tax “unless it enacts an alternative tax change that would more effectively curtail (health care) cost growth.” This piece will explain the basics of the Cadillac plan tax, some of the policy and political reasons for its enactment, and why its current precarious status was both predictable and predicted.
Sep 20, 2015

There is no shortage of ideas on how to improve the federal budget process; it is difficult to get bipartisan agreement on most of them. Some believe budget rules should be easier to execute, to increase the chances lawmakers will abide by them. Others believe rules should be toughened, to force lawmakers to make difficult choices they currently avoid. Inevitably, advocates tend to favor budget rules they believe are more likely to lead to their preferred fiscal policy outcomes, and of course such views are all over the map.
Aug 30, 2015

My usual custom when writing about Medicare and Social Security finances is to simply present the relevant data instead of discussing others’ commentaries about the programs. After this year’s Medicare trustees’ report was released, however, a subsequent Paul Krugman column prompted a number of questions from his readers, suggesting it would be helpful to address Dr. Krugman’s specific assertions.
Jul 30, 2015

My most recent article for e21 summarized the 2015 Social Security trustees’ report released last week. This companion piece does the same for theMedicare report. These are the last annual reports in which I participated as a public trustee based on my term that ended last autumn. The Medicare report shows that the program is on an unsustainable path. Following is some key information from the report about Medicare finances.


Charles Blahous


| Sep 29, 2015
In a new set of essays commissioned by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, seven leading policy experts share innovative ideas on how to solve the pre-existing condition challenge. While their approaches exhibit differences as well as similarities, they are unified in their pursuit of a humane, equitable, fiscally sustainable solution to a conundrum that has driven and strained the entire post–World War II healthcare debate.


Charles Blahous | July 10, 2015
Charles Blahous discusses how the costs of the Affordable Care Act has impacted the federal deficit on the nationally-syndicated John Batchelor show.
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