1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
Video of this event will be livestreamed online at http://www.american.com/watch/aei-livestream
Please note that this event is being held on the 10th floor at AEI.
In his book Social Security: The
Download Audio as MP3 Unfinished Work (Hoover Institution Press, 2010), Charles Blahous, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, argues that our national Social Security debate is more polarized than it needs to be--even given the legitimate differences over the program's appropriate future direction. Beginning with a review of the events of 1983 and focusing on the substance, intent, and scorekeeping of that year's Social Security reforms, Blahous explains what happened then, why, and how it led to sharply divergent views of program finances during the Bush administration's reform initiative and through today. At this event, Blahous will be joined by AEI's Andrew G. Biggs to dissect the competing positions in the current debate and offer solutions to resolve their differences.
Registration and Breakfast
CHARLES BLAHOUS, Hoover Institution
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 22, 2011--Policymakers have four decisions to make to save Social Security: 1) higher taxes or lower benefits, 2) pay-go or a prefunded system, 3) the extent of redistribution, and 4) what work incentives should be used, Charles Blahous said at an American Enterprise Institute event Tuesday. Blahous, author of Social Security: The Unfinished Work and one of the two public trustees for the Social Security program, stressed that building up the Social Security trust fund was not part of the system's last reforms in 1983. The accidental buildup of surpluses in the trust fund has led to political clashes over the extent of Social Security's deficits, and differing opinions on the federal government's ability to make good on its promise have caused political gridlock. While AEI's Andrew G. Biggs agreed with Blahous about the urgency of fixing Social Security, his solutions included working more, saving more, and retiring later. These steps would help meet the three goals of Social Security: forced savings to avoid the moral hazard that results from individuals who do not save enough for retirement; redistribution of earnings to assist the poor; and annuitization to distribute savings evenly across an individual's entire retirement period.
Charles Blahous, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, serves as one of the two public trustees for the Social Security and Medicare programs. 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. Previously, Mr. Blahous served as deputy director of President George W. 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. From 2000 to 2001, he led the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, a private-sector coalition dedicated to the fiscally responsible reform of Social Security. Before that, he was policy director for Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) and served in the office of Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), first as a congressional science fellow sponsored by the American Physical Society and later as legislative director. Mr. Blahous’s latest publications include Social Security: The Unfinished Work (Hoover Institution Press, 2010) and Pension Wise: Confronting Employer Pension Underfunding—and Sparing Taxpayers the Next Bailout (Hoover Institution Press, 2010). He is also the author of Reforming Social Security (Greenwood, 2000). Mr. Blahous has published in a number of periodicals, including National Affairs, the Financial Times, Politico, National Review, the Harvard Journal of Legislation, the 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.
Andrew G. Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw the agency’s policy research efforts and led its participation in the Social Security Trustees working group. He worked on Social Security reform at the White House National Economic Council in 2005 and was on the staff of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security in 2001. His work at AEI has focused on Social Security reform, public-sector pension financing, and analysis of compensation for public-sector employees.