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 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

e21
Jun 22, 2015

We have yet another report showing the ACA's finances turning out worse than previous projections and, properly understood, also showing that repeal--whatever its other policy virtues or drawbacks--would improve the fiscal outlook.
e21
Jun 01, 2015

As a currently-serving trustee I have been asked for my view of the Kashin-King-Soneji work. Summarizing very roughly, their factual observations and analyses strike me as essentially correct, though I disagree with many of their interpretative conclusions (full disclosure: I was one of many sources interviewed by the authors in the course of their extensive research). In this piece I will review some of their critiques pertaining to the trustees' projection history. In a follow-up piece I will turn to their criticisms and recommendations with respect to the process by which the projections are developed.
e21
Jun 01, 2015

My last column reviewed several recent criticisms of the Social Security trustees' projection history by Konstantin Kashin, Gary King and Samir Soneji. This column reviews other criticisms by the same authors, this time focusing on process and presentation. As I indicated in my last column, their factual observations regarding the projections strike me as essentially correct, though I find myself in disagreement with many of their interpretative conclusions. The following summarizes my perspectives on some of their process criticisms, also restated in my own words.
Apr 30, 2015

The urgent financing crisis facing Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) is giving rise to suggestions that the DI Trust Fund be merged with Social Security’s larger Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund. These two components of Social Security have been kept separate thus far since their inceptions. Of the two, DI currently faces the much more immediate (2016) threat of depletion.
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