David Dayen

David Dayen is the executive editor of The American Prospect. His work has appeared in The Intercept, The New RepublicHuffPost, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and more. His first book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud, winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize, was released by The New Press in 2016.

Recent Articles

The Best Part of Medicare for All That You Haven’t Heard About

Hint: It’s immensely more cost-effective than private insurance or even the Affordable Care Act.

With the release of Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All bill , we are mired in the usual debates about the concept, which inevitably come down to cost. “How will you pay for it,” ask skeptics and opponents, pointing to impossibly large estimates ( $32 trillion !) of covering the entire population with a comprehensive health program that covers more than current Medicare and is free of co-pays. The $32 trillion number, of course, discounts the even larger number that Americans currently spend in national health expenditures, which would be saved in the event of a transition. It’s really just thrown out there as bait to get Medicare for All defenders to suggest various taxes, which are then used as a cudgel to weaken public support. But if we’re really going to talk about cost, we should acknowledge that the Jayapal bill is demonstrably more serious about the issue than any comprehensive bill on the right or the center-left,...

California’s Bullet Train Goes Off the Rails

Governor Gavin Newsom decides to slow down what could have been one of the country’s most transformative transportation infrastructure projects.

screen_shot_2017-07-19_at_4.28.52_pm.png A week after the introduction of the Green New Deal resolution, designed to build an inclusive economy while fighting the climate crisis, the textbook version of such a project has been essentially cancelled. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom used his State of the State Address to declare that there’s “ no path ” currently for a high-speed rail network connecting all of the state’s population centers. Instead of abandoning the project, Newsom has committed to completing the segment connecting Bakersfield, Fresno, and Merced, three cities with a population of around one million in a state pushing 40 million. No line would be preferable to running this line, which would create the false impression that high-speed rail cannot work in America. California’s bullet train tragedy is a cautionary tale on numerous levels. It’s about whether big infrastructure projects can flourish in the U.S.; whether a determined...

Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer's Surprising Collaboration -- and Weird Proposal -- on Stock Buybacks

Sanders and Schumer target buybacks as a way to leak corporate profits to investors. But their solution is an unnecessary Rube Goldberg contraption.

Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders went to the same high school in Brooklyn, but that’s about all they shared in common until an op-ed in Monday’s New York Times . The subject is stock buybacks, the increasingly common procedure whereby public companies use their prodigious cash hordes generated by record profits to purchase their own shares, rather than increase wages or invest in equipment. It’s one way to leak profits out to investors while workers get the shaft. As Schumer and Sanders point out, between 2008 and 2017, over 80 percent of corporate profits have been dedicated to buybacks and dividends, a more direct cash transfer to corporate investors. Buybacks also enrich shareholders by artificially increasing the stock price—if there are fewer shares available for purchase, the value of each increases. This has the nice side benefit of enriching top executives, most of whom are paid with stock. William Lazonick, America’s foremost critic of buybacks,...

The Trump Appointee Delivering a Jackpot for Hedge Funds

Joseph Otting, as an acting overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sets in motion a plan to overhaul the housing finance system, which would enrich wealthy investors.

When Mick Mulvaney became acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in November 2017, there was outrage over Trump installing a crony with designs on destroying the agency that defends people from financial ripoffs. The reaction was far more muted when Joseph Otting, former CEO of OneWest Bank and current head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, began moonlighting as acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) earlier this month. But the appointment is just as dangerous to the future of everyday Americans, if not more so. After all, it concerns the largest financial asset most of us will ever purchase—our homes. The FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two giants that purchase mortgages and package them into bonds to keep the market for homeownership liquid. Fannie and Freddie came under government conservatorship after the 2008 crisis, with the government accepting $187 billion in liabilities . That has all been paid...

The New Economic Concentration

The competition that justifies capitalism is being destroyed—by capitalists. 

The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition By Jonathan Tepper with Denise Hearn Wiley The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age By Tim Wu Columbia Global Reports This article appears in the Winter 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Jonathan Tepper is not happy. You might call him angry. “People haven’t used the word anger before, but you’re probably correct,” he told me in a phone call. The source of Tepper’s anger is capitalism; not the ideal laid out in textbooks, but how it’s been practiced since the 1980s. In a capitalist system, increased productivity and tight labor markets should lead to higher wages. But in the U.S., wages for the typical worker have been flat for four decades. In a capitalist system, “creative destruction” keeps the economy vibrant, as upstart companies push out less agile ones. But the rate of new business formation has been cut in half since the late...