Friday, July 27, 2012

What the rich owe us

Yes, you rich person, who either made a fortune or inherited one, you owe society. As Elizabeth Warren and President Obama have pointed out, you owe something to the society in which these riches were made.

That shouldn't be denied, though some people strenuously deny that society, or specifically government, provides much benefit to those who are trying to make a living. That's hogwash, of course. The rich are not self-sufficient. They rely on the commercial marketplace, public roads and utilities, customers, property rights enforced by police and courts, etc.

Fear Factor

Nonetheless, an unqualified statement that rich people owe society is frightening. The world has seen the rich plundered (along with the poor or the average), the rich guillotined, the rich sent to reeducation camps, etc. Even in this country we've had 90% income tax rates for the rich, which amounts to confiscation for those who aren't adept at tax avoidance.

It would be good if those who say that 'the rich owe society' show that they aren't planning to go down that slippery slope, because that is what will pop into the heads of a lot of people if they don't address the issue.

Reassurance Rates

What is effective reassurance? Giving a maximum tax rate would be somewhat reassuring, but it's not the best political optics. For people who know their effective tax rate or their tax bracket, the highest tax bracket of almost 40% sounds damn high. Besides, I think that tax bracket will break over the 40% threshold when the Obamacare taxes start being collected.

Perhaps it would be more palatable to talk in multiples of the usual payroll tax. I personally think that having highest earners paying income tax at a rate of 5 times the usual payroll tax doesn't sound terrible, especially if you quantify the other brackets too: 1.5 times the payroll tax, 2 times the payroll tax, 3 times the payroll tax, etc. (Note: I say the usual payroll tax to account for the Social Security tax rate cut we're currently having. Any tax holidays for payroll taxes shouldn't apply to the income tax rates.)

Reform

The best way to reassure taxpayers that you aren't out to soak the rich is to support a broad, fairly flat income tax structure. But that means committing to tax reform because our current tax structure isn't very flat and contains all sorts of loopholes for the wealthy and not-wealthy to reduce their tax burden. It also means being committed to finding ways to rein in spending, including entitlements. Because if you don't rein in spending (and growth in entitlements are the largest automatic spending hikes), then the US taxpayers know that you're going to be soaking the rich sooner or later.

So here's my declaration: I believe in the rich paying their fair share, and everyone else paying theirs too. And I'm not afraid to quantify what I mean by 'fair share.'

 My proposed tax rates
Image: travel-images.com

26 comments:

Anastasios said...

Sounds like a reasonable approach. I think the payroll tax multiple is useful analytically, but I do not know how well it would "sell" as part of the public conversation, simply because it presumes a greater knowledge than the average member of the public possesses. But that is the problem with any tax proposal, a combination of partisan thinking and genuine ignorance makes it far too easy for the waters to become so muddy as to be opaque.

A strongly suspect that the key to all this in terms of genuine effectiveness will be to get rid of the favored status of capital gains. Again and again that comes back as the original sin of the American tax system. But like actual sin, recognizing that is the easy part, while doing something about it will likely take a titanic effort. Just look where we are with health care reform, and the issues with the health care system are a lot more real to the general public than the problems we have with tax policy.

truth > spin said...

MP - Did I miss where your being brave enough to post your ideal tax rates was a joke? They are / were missing when I read this.

To me, the rates themselves are not as important as the administrative complication of doing the year end calculations. Plus the allowed deductions and how the rates progress relative to the other brackets.

And of course, it is vastly more about dollars out than dollars in to me.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm going to have to answer this post, even though I admire your willingness to defend the rich from the pitchfork-bearing masses. (Yes, that has happened from time to time, with some good reasons and some bad.)

The U.S. did have a 90% tax marginal bracket un Eisenhower, probably to help the government recoup from WWII and the Korea War, while also building the interstate highway system, fund the cold war anti-commie stance, build suburbia, etc. It does sound like a lot, but the rich were still rich, and it was only on income, not on wealth. So I wouldn't call confiscation. If the government had seized assets, that would be confiscation.

So what is wealthy people's "fair share". Is it a percentage of income? In Florida, they tax wealth, not income. In the U.S., income from investment is treated differently than income from working. That doesn't sound fair to me. It seems that the GOP won the argument (particularly since they controlled the government at the time) that somehow taxing income from wealth was "double-taxation" and deserved a tax benefit. Naturally, tax lawyers got to play with that one. Hence, definitions in the tax code are everything, and that's what makes it complicated, not the "year end calculations" as T&G Spin describes them. Get a $50 tax software program and even relatively complex taxes (like mine) are not that bad. For most working people the benefits of deductions far outweigh the complexity in completing the 1040.

Most of the tax code is about other accounting issues, many pertaining to business taxes. Calculations for depreciation, off-shore revenue and expenses, definitions of what constitutes "income" or "revenue" or expenses is a hugely complex process for a multi-national corporation, and they have lobbied to have the tax code include all those loopholes that give them advantages. Does anyone seriously think that "tax reform" won't result in the same process repeated?

This battle of who pays is fought on so many levels with those with more always in a better position to game the system. They try to keep rates as low as possible for themselves. They try to get special breaks that help them. They would rather loan the government money and earn interest than pay more in taxes to avoid government debt. So let's not pretend that they are helpless in this class war over who pays and who gets. They have an army of lawyers and piles of campaign cash. We have more votes. For two decades, their army has won the battles.

So what is their "fair share". It's whatever we say it is versus whatever their lawyers and politicians can protect. If we make it a formula, they will game the formula, it's assumptions, definitions and enforcement. If they go too far, the peasants haul out the pitchforks. I suspect most of the time they had it coming.

So I'm not going to cry about seaking the rich. They don't get that wet. They'll still be rich when it's all over. Further, as economic policy, they using do better when they pay more because, guess what, they still own the businesses that benefit from the extra customers.

ModeratePoli said...

@truth, please try to be clearer. You think my tax rates were a joke? I try to use exaggeration and absurdity when I'm joking, so NO, I wasn't joking. However, I don't have the same level of data or employees to crunch numbers, so I don't have confidence that my rates are correct.

Do you have a point you want to make about the tax rates?

By the way, I also think spending is the bigger issue, and I always have. There are numerous posts where I talk about that.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon, that's a pretty good defense for the "soak the rich" argument. (Except for the confiscation part. If the government takes 100% of your income, is it confiscation or slavery? You're on thin ice supporting 90%, and even thinner if you'd want to go back to 90%.)

So, I have a question for you, @Anon. What rate is too high to charge the rich? Is the sky the limit? Actually, some hard percentage is the kind of answer I'm hoping to see.

truth > spin said...

mp - When I read the post the first time and even now, your diary ends with:

'And I'm not afraid to quantify what I mean by 'fair share.'

My proposed tax rates"

And then nothing else. If you intended to include your proposed rates, they are not showing up for me. That's why I asked if it was a joke. You'll have to forgive me; I have a very off kilter snark/humor meter. I was being 100% sincere in my last message.

Anastasios said...

The argument about 90% being confiscatory (or any percentage being confiscatory) brings up an interesting point about tax debates, which is that the difference between marginal rates and absolute rates tends to get lost. Personally I would agree that a 90% absolute rate would be too much in most cases (and really in all realistic cases). On the other hand, a 90% marginal rate might well be perfectly reasonable if set high enough (at a 200 million or so). Of course reasonable depends on what kind of deductions and what kind of other taxes are out there, including inheritance taxes on large fortunes (generally the higher they are the better off society is).

My guess is that most people instinctively think of things like taxes in terms of absolute rates. Which I suppose is as good a reason as any to make the tax system more transparent, as it could, in theory, make absolute rates easier to relate to tax policy.

Unfortunately, however, I doubt such transparency will ever be achieved in practice -- there are just too many vested interests with too many good reasons to oppose that. In the end, if we want to have a greater inflow of revenue, it may actually be easier just to raise the rates, whether by fiscal cliff or some other mechanism.

ModeratePoli said...

@truth, there's a link in the post that takes you to this post where I mull over different tax policies. This post is where I crunch numbers for both spending and revenue. Finally, for a sound, professional plan, see this summary of the Simpson-Bowles plan, which is the only budget plan that I rate as a "WIN."

ModeratePoli said...

@Anastasios,

As a helpful Anon pointed out long ago, the first thing that the GOP does when it wants to lower taxes is cut the taxes rates. If we need to raise revenue, why not do what the Republicans did and act on the tax rates? Reform is tortuous, so picking a number is immensely easier.

Perhaps one way to get people to support tax reform is to raise the tax rates up high enough so that an average person in such-and-such a bracket is paying a target effective tax rate. So if we want most people making $100K to pay and effective 12% rate, the bracket may have to be 25%. If we want millionaires to pay an effective 35%, the rate may have to be 60%. Of course, for the millionaires, it will also be important not to give special treatment to dividends and capital gains. (But I'm already for scrapping that special treatment.)

truth > spin said...

MP - sorry for missing the link. That way it was laid out confused me.

As I mentioned about Simpson - Bowles before, I'd take it as the tip of the iceberg deal. That it is considered so far reaching when at the same time it barely scratches the surface is quite depressing.

And thanks for responding.

Anastasios said...

MP,

I agree that is one possible approach. I think whatever we do we are going to have a very basic problem, which is that talking about fair rates inevitably runs afoul of the problem most people have with imagining the numbers. If we say we want a wealthy person to pay forty percent, those who hate all taxation will scream "40!!!! Imagine giving up forty percent!". The fact that we are talking about 40% of 200 million and that is different than 40% of 40,000 will be lost on all too many.

To borrow an idea from our European friends it might be better to approach taxes as the bill the government presents you for its services. That is not strictly true, and it has dangers, but it has the great virtue of justifying progressive rates. Rich people get more services from the political system, therefore the bill they get is much larger. If they don't like the bill they have to renounce their privileges.

The great danger is that some will say that if poor people get services why don't they get a bill? Probably the best way to deal with that would be to give them a bill but offset it with specific support. The rich will complain they are paying for that, to which the answer is (and once again Europeans are more willing to be honest about this) "yes, you are paying for that. It is the government service of keeping you safe from poor people hauling guillotines. See, that is itemized on your tax bill in line 15."

Anastasios said...

Truth,

If you find that Simpson-Bowles is inadequate, what specific changes do you prefer? What changes do you think might be able to gather enough lasting support from both parties to not become bleeding ulcers on the body politic? It would seem that Simpson-Bowles cannot, whether for good or ill. Given that the present polarization and dysfunction in our system has pushed disagreement into intense dislike, indeed in many quarters into outright hatred, what do you think can realistically be done that would not be more destructive than helpful?

Anonymous said...

I love this discussion as it dives into the real issue here or who pays. Anastasia has defended my points well. 90% marginal rate may sound high, but it depends on the lower limit vis-a-vis typical income, other rules, and whether or not the country has to pay for a major war or two, probably with those at the highest brackets NOT having to fight it.

My larger point is that so called tax reform is a punchline, used as an excuse to keep the focus on lowering rates (desired outcome) and defending priviliges (also the desired outcome) while not having to list the price of the free lunch. This is almost exclusively a GOP talking point; they would not like a Dem-led tax reform effort. Given the chance, they would do TRINO -- Tax-Reform-In- Name-Only.

Bush and the GOP went straight for the rates on regular and, particularly, investment income, because they know that's a key for them. They don't talk tax reform when they want to reduce rates. They still pursue the goodies, and sometimes even call it reform, but it's really just favors for their friends included in the tax code. Reform doesn't always make things simpler. It's clearly in the eye of the beholder. But talk of increasing rates IMMEDIATELY launches their talking point on tax reform. That is, they don't want to talk about raising rates, ever.

My solution to this political dilemma is to call it something else. They will consider a VAT or national sales tax, so why not a wealth fee based on each person's and corporation's share of the national wealth national, divided by the national debt. Then set the term at 30 years with annual repayments in equal amount. Then, if we run a deficit, that get added to it.

That's the "enough" percentage. They'll still be plenty to argue amount, I'm sure.

truth > spin said...

Anastasios, I assume you do not disagree that more than Simpson - Bowles needs to be done. You didn't say you disagreed with me, only that you wanted specifics and wondered how it is possible.

In short, I don't think the needed changes can gather the supported needed. At least not before the pain of inaction will be much greater than it is today. That Simpson - Bowles is considered so draconian as to make it a non starter is proof of that. So, realistically, it is doubtful that anything that would not be more destructive than helpful will occur.

That depressing view aside, what should be done in my view? Limiting myself to only budgetary mechanisms here, I would replace in its entirety our tax code with one that had several progressive rates that applied to all income. At the lowest end, there would be a negative income tax that provided people with incomes below an indexed threshold with refunds that replace all the current federal credits and welfare benefits. At income levels higher than that, the rates would climb to no more than 33%. But everything, including capital gains, dividends, wages and all small business pass through income would face the same rates and tables. There would be an exempted amount of $5 million for estate tax purposes, with no tax on spousal transfers. And there would be a flat corporate tax rate structure of 15% applied to all business profits on US based activity and 20% on any extraterritorial activity of US based companies with an offset allowed for any tax paid in the nation of origin.

On the spend side, every program must sunset in 10 years, including entitlements. Regular reform must be part of the process.

For discretionary spending, priorities will have to be set and some programs will have to disappear or be picked up by state or localities. I'd say that all programs must set success benchmarks against which they could be measured. If they fail to reach them, then during the next sunset cycle it will be harder to reauthorize the program or shield it from significant reform. I would rather see a much smaller number of well run, success programs than a pile of them always wanting for resources that are not meeting their mission. Whatever we do, let's do well.

Defense will have to take a large reduction. No way around it. The military planners must come up with the programs, staffing levels and investments they think are critical to defend the US and her interests and we should do that and no more. No more jet engines built because they are in someone's state of district or war ship programs kept going for job purposes (MP's post on the M1A1 being only one of many such examples). We simply cannot afford it these days. If we ever reach unlimited resources, then by all mean pork away. But until then, constrained resources mean we must ration what we do.

truth > spin said...

<...>

The mandatory stuff, excepting interest on the debt, must face the same green eyeshades. SS isn't so bad off, although the short term demographics are ugly. Still, I'd prefer something of an ownership / personal account component. It doesn't have to be all of it, but knowing some of the money was really yours would force voters to be more concerned about how the government managed "their" money and what claims against it were allowed. Plus, with the need for interest rates to stay low as a result of the debt, we will need ROI higher than the T Notes will allow. I am not suggesting we run out and go long on the next Facebook IPO, but holding a basket of government and blue chip corporate bonds seems wise. As does forgetting about ever pulling the payroll tax holiday stunt again. Medicare and Medicaid are part of the much larger problem of health care inflation in America. How we get the same or more care for less dollars seems like wanting to hold 10 pounds of goods in a 5 pound bag. Good luck to us all on that. But, having the consumer make more decisions and having greater transparency of costs and consequences must be part of this. There is no single solution. To just about every idea out there, I think we should try it. State by state seems reasonable, but however else it works is fine too. We are all going to have to grow up and see the issue for what it is. I'll write more about health at some point, but I'll end this note here.

Anastasios said...

Truth,

I have to admit I'm not a budget/tax policy kind of guy. I'm much more of a defense policy/health care policy kind of guy with musings about basic political matters thrown in.

Having said that, I like a great deal of what you have to say. I think that there is promise in a kind of approach to social and economic issues that emphasizes rock-hard standards, including rock-hard guarantees with regard to income, health care, etc. Something along with lines that "we can't guarantee you a fortune but we can guarantee that you'll get the health care you need, the education you need, and have enough money for necessities if you don't act really stupidly." Guaranteed income policies (which is what this would be) have the advantage of being simple and effective, as do the more elegant forms of national health care.

But, sigh, I have doubts as to whether we can get there anytime in the conceivable future. The simplicity of these kinds of programs enrages special interests who no longer have the kind of purchase they can find in the nooks and crannies of more complex systems, while the guarantees enrage those who, for whatever reason, object to the idea of any kind of social support for the less fortunate (and I think that idea of "fortune" and "luck" enrages some people most of all). It would also mean making a bipartisan deal, and we all know the history of THAT over the last little while.

To bring this around to health care, this kind of approach was what we saw in the Wyden-Bennett plan, which would have put everyone in the individual market with strong guarantees and subsidies. I will say that I had a lot of problems with Wyden-Bennet as written, however the idea was elegant and had a great deal of theoretical promise. But the draconian simplicity of it enraged many on the left and alarmed the health-care lobbies, while the right fairly had apoplexy at the socialism and went after poor Bennett with axes [yes, I'm oversimplifying all the way around, but that was I think the bedrock essence of it]. And so a plan that was deeply flawed but nevertheless might have made a good basis for interesting bi-partisan discussions never got anywhere.

Sigh.

truth > spin said...

Anastasios, thanks for the kind words. I, too, liked much of Wyden-Bennet. And I agree that the barriers are almost too high to even consider them being overcome anytime soon. From all sides.

The only major change in health policy that I can see having a shot given the array of interests would be something akin to the federal franchise idea for insurance companies that passed the House back in 2005 or 2006, as I recall. If you add some of the rock-hard guarantees that you mention for both coverage and premium support, then you might have the foundation of a deal.

Are you involved in defense and health care policy professionally? Or is it a matter of personal interest to you?

Anastasios said...

Truth,

I do not do health policy professionally, although I used to work in the health care sector, including briefly in clinical services. Currently I work in the defense sector, but I have a long- standing interest in scientific and medical policy (which of course cuts strongly across both of those sectors and many others).

With regard to health care policy I suppose it is most important to define what your goals are. I believe they should be universal coverage (or as near universal as we can realistically get) with cost control, and I agree with the experts who see these as two aspects of one problem. I also agree with persons (mostly on the liberal side) who argue that this is one area where American exceptionalism falls flat on its face. Yes, every country is unique and every population presents unique challenges, but still the observation that Europe, Canada, and much of Asia is able to insure whole populations with lower costs and better results than what we get is pretty much unanswerable.

But of course how to get there? That is the problem, is it not? I don't want to get into a long discussion of the ACA as that isn't what this thread is about, but as many problems as it has (and it has many) it's probably the best we can hope for, policy wise. There are a lot of things I wish had been done differently, but with the Republicans flat refusing to negotiate (witness the lynching of poor Bennett) and the Democrats engaging in their usual ugly muddle, the ACA is about the best one could expect. At least it does get a long way toward universality, and has some promise of cost control. And here endeth the lesson about making lemonade with rotten lemons and ant-infested sugar.

truth > spin said...

Anastasios, thanks for your reply and good humor.

I don't think that universal coverage and cost control are as linked as some people believe. The inflation in health spending has the same steep of a ramp even if you exclude ER spending, look only at Medicare or at spending within insurance cohorts. That would indicate that the inflation and price pressure is much more systemic and won't be solved by providing coverage universally. It is true that providers do cover some of their ER costs by spreading them everywhere else and that many conditions while are less costly to treat early on become more costly when they are emergent (not to mention costly in human suffering terms), but the data I have seen indicates that this cost shifting owes as much to insurance company reimbursement limits and geographic factors as it does the un- or under-insured. That said, universal coverage is on its own a moral condition and goal that ought to be pursued on its own merits.

I think there are a lot of reasons why the US could not simply adopt another nation's system and replicate their results. Our size, distributed nature and diversity of population (and culture/lifestyles) can't be compared. Plus, to some extent we serve in a similar manner in some health R&D markets (most importantly the drug market) that we do in currency and financial markets: i.e., we have reserve status that precludes us from certain actions. That is not to say we might not have better results than now if we adopted other systems, only that they may not (and probably would not) be the same results as the other nation(s) are seeing.

As for ACA, I agree it has many problems but that given what the authors wanted to accomplish, it probably will do as good as job as was possible. I'll even add that there are several elements that I am hopeful will act as a brake on spending. Sadly, two of the most important items that were in the original draft were tossed for political calculations - one for each side's base. I honestly can't say whether I would prefer that the bill be repealed given how doubtful it is that anything else that would control health spending would pass. On the other hand, reality will play its hand at some point and the ruthlessness of the debt market will invariably exert control over the situation: that which cannot continue, won't.

Anastasios said...

Truth,

I would moderately disagree about the link between cost and universality, but at that point we are quibbling about degrees of contribution to a problem that arises from many factors. I agree that all health systems, even the universal ones, face immense pressures of rising cost coming from any number of sources.

I think in the U.S. we face some very, very difficult problems that we have only now begun to face in the most tentative way. When I was during my brief clinical stint I worked in a surgical facility and we had an octogenarian with hypertension and a myriad of other problems come in with deteriorated circulation in the lower extremeties. His family insisted on expensive, difficult, dangerous surgery to restore the circulation and save his legs, even though amputation was quick, safe, and cheap, and even though his various health problems meant he probably belonged in a wheel chair to start with. To make a long story short, he got the surgery, had severe but unsurprising complications, and died of a heart attack a week later. The chief resident on the service, not a very nice man but a very good surgeon, observed to me "we have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on an old man who would have been better off in a wheel chair to start with, and who probably had less than a year to live under any circumstances."

That is the kind of decision that European systems, for all their challenges, can cope with, and that the American system, for all of its strengths, cannot. We are only just beginning to see the way to acknowledging these kinds of problems, much less dealing with them in an adult way. The ACA, for all its flaws, is a foot in the door. If it were to be repealed, my great fear is that no one will have the courage to pry that door open again until it is too late, i.e. until the crisis has accelerated to the point of meltdown.

Added to that a nightmare of demography is upon us. With each passing day more old white people need increasingly expensive medical care. With each passing day more young dark-skinned people enter the world with their access to American health care severely restricted by cost and delivery problems that are getting worse. That is not a situation that makes for stability, and any chance we have to head it off in the middle stages (we have already squandered our easier chances) should be seized with both hands, even if that means grabbing a thorny vine that makes us bleed and cry a little.

truth > spin said...

Anastasios I agree with every word you wrote. Push come to shove, I would assume start with ACA and make changes using the leverage of opening it the first place than revert the thing to ground zero and have to face the full weight of the status quo all over.

One of the two items tossed from the ACA for political reasons I mentioned as being most unfortunate what the so called death panel issue. While it was a very small foot in the door, conversations about end-of-life care and the simple consultations the original text would have supported must occur. It probably would not have mattered at all in the example you outlined, but we must start somewhere and the evidence is quite strong that it can only be a very small step.

So you know, the other toss away was the so-called Cadillac tax. Not keeping downward pressure on the richest plans, which set the pace, was a huge mistake.

As for addressing problems when they are in their incipient stage: LOL. If only...

ModeratePoli said...

I take a short hiatus and you have an interesting discussion without me? I'm unsure whether to be angry or what.

@truth, a lot of your budget prescriptions sound like Simpson-Bowles. I hope you realize that.

It also sounds that you're coming around to the idea that repealing ACA would likely have worse outcomes than keeping it and revising it.

I agree, but that isn't actually going to be a factor in its survival or extinction. It will be based solely on the party affiliations of the next Congress and president. GOP control of House, Senate, and WH, and it's gone.

What I'm uncertain of is how it may be stripped down or neutered if Dems hold power in one or two of those bodies.

As for cost containment in medicine, I'm not too hopeful. I tried getting a handle on the numbers on where our medical dollars were going, but I didn't get too far. What I did see was that a lot of the spending is for the elderly, and it is usually basic spending rather than Cadillac (which will make it harder to lower).

One other point is that there is a lot of overhead in our medical expenses, so it might work well to squeeze there. That will also mean rolling back some government regulation and the reams of paperwork required.

I strongly support fraud-detection, but keeping track of 40 data points 3 times a day for non-critical and even residential patients is ridiculous, and probably the tip of the iceberg on what is mandated.

truth > spin said...

MP - there are only so many ways to accomplish the goal of better fiscal stewardship. We need more money in, less money out or some combination. And then, given that most programs don't add up to a fraction of what is spent on Medicare, SS, Medicaid and defense, it isn't hard to see where this must all go. Even Willie Sutton figured that out.

As for ACA, I don't know if I am coming around to any idea so much as skinning the pragmatic / ideal cat more finely. That aside, I am not as certain that unified GOP would result in full repeal. It's too tectonic for that, in my view. But I am often surprised by Congress. Even when I was near the center of it, I didn't have good pulse for predictions unless I let my truly cynical mind go to work.

What heath spending data are you looking for? Maybe I can point you in a direction.

ModeratePoli said...

@truth,

You got healthcare data? Youza! I'd like to know the percentage of healthcare spending versus age; is there a particular point when it spikes up; if there are spikes, what kinds of procedures are involved in the spikes.

I'm ready for a first stab at rationing in Medicare, ie, not giving every senior everything. By the way, I ration in my house--I call it budgeting. I also cut down on my healthcare in intelligent ways.

truth > spin said...

It may not have everything you want and it's from 2004, but give this a look:
http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/Downloads/2004-age-tables.pdf

This one has much finer detail about where the money is going and who the source is (insurance, public, cash payers, etc.), but it blocks age demographics into just 3 cohorts: http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/Downloads/2004GenderandAgeTables.pdf

But if you use the data in combination, you'll have pretty good information.

If you want them, I can get you the downloadable data files you can manipulate. In the good sense. :)

Anastasios said...

Thanks for the links, Truth. I would add that for health care policy the best places to start to get an overview are probably:

1) Kaiser Family Foundation
2) Commonwealth Fund
3) Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
4) Jefferson Health Policy Foundation
5) Century Foundation
6) Heritage Foundation


Although the last has a reputation of being somewhat, ahem, fickle in its enthusiasms.