David Dayen

David Dayen is a contributing writer to Salon.com and a weekly columnist for The Fiscal Times. His forthcoming book about foreclosures will be published by the The New Press.

Recent Articles

The Battle of the Budget Isn't Over

Right-wing Republicans can still pursue their goals through riders on appropriations bills—and, if they don’t get their way, shut down the government.

(Photo: AP/Lauren Victoria Burke)
(Photo: AP/Lauren Victoria Burke) Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise talk to reporters on Tuesday about the two-year budget deal. E ven seasoned observers of Washington seem to have come away from this week’s events thinking that we’ve seen the last of the brinksmanship that has defined the last six years of the Obama presidency. The deal on the budget, debt limit, looming increases in Medicare premiums, and cuts in Social Security disability insurance supposedly “cleans the barn,” to use John Boehner’s phrase. That impression, however, reflects a misunderstanding of the basic facts about the federal budgeting process. All those exultations by progressives that they faced down the House Freedom Caucus and forced them to give up their hostages are wildly premature. Paul Ryan will have to negotiate the same balancing act that ended up forcing his predecessor to retire. What the House passed on Wednesday and the Senate passed early Friday morning is...

Paul Theroux and the Poverty Behind the Numbers

A recent op-ed from the author of Deep South sparked a debate about globalization and American poverty. 

(Photo: AP/Rogelio V. Solis)
(Photo: AP/Rogelio V. Solis) A photo of Pickens, Mississippi, taken October 2011 H as globalization produced better outcomes for humanity in aggregate, or have improvements abroad come at the expense of large parts of the American landscape? And what should we care about more? Author Paul Theroux stepped into this decades-long debate in a New York Times op-ed , a preview of his new book Deep South , where he encountered poverty in the Mississippi Delta “that looked like towns in Zimbabwe, just as overlooked and beleaguered.” Theroux seethed at corporate executives who abandon American communities for cheaper labor, and then vow to “lift people out of poverty,” which they helped create. Theroux’s piece generated outrage, and then outrage at the outrage. Annie Lowrey of New York magazine called him “economically illiterate,” citing per capita gross domestic product and infant mortality rates to argue that global poverty is far more deserving of aid in Africa than the United States...

Why the DOJ Needs to Hold Individuals Responsible for Corporate Crime

The DOJ claims it wants to root out individuals responsible for corporate crime. The Volkswagen emissions scandal is a perfect test. 

AP Photo/Michael Sohn
AP Photo/Michael Sohn Volkswagen ornaments sit in a box in a scrap yard in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, September 23, 2015. I t’s a bad time to be a Volkswagen executive. You’ve just been caught illegally installing software in nearly half a million TDI “clean” diesel cars in the U.S., and 11 million worldwide , designed to fraudulently pass smog emissions tests. Reports reveal that you lied about this , in the face of demonstrable evidence, for more than a year. Fines under the Clean Air Act could hit $18 billion . On Monday your stock lost $20 billion in value in the first two hours of trading, and another $20 billion or so since then. The stock only stopped falling when your CEO, Martin Winterkorn, decided to resign . But despite the damaging fallout, there’s a path for VW to, improbably, survive their deceptions. After the CEO resignation and a $7.3 billion set-aside to pay any penalties from the scandal, investment analysts rated stock in the company a “buy.” Shares rebounded on...

Yet Another Subsidy for the Big Banks

If Congress really wanted to save hundreds of billions of dollars, the Fed could stop paying interest on bank reserves.

(Photo: AP/Richard Drew)
(Photo: AP/Richard Drew) A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in June. W hen Mitch McConnell wanted to pay for a transportation bill this summer, he targeted a subsidy the Federal Reserve automatically pays to banks. All 2,900 banks who purchase stock in the Federal Reserve system—a kind of membership fee for using services like check-clearing and the discount window—get a 6 percent annual dividend , costing the government $16.3 billion over ten years. McConnell used this pot of cash for his highway bill, which remains in limbo until the House passes its own long-term version. But there’s a bigger risk-free payout the Fed makes to big banks, one set to rise exponentially as the economy improves. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, hundreds of billions of dollars that would otherwise go into the federal Treasury will leak out to banks, including branches of foreign banks, in the coming years. If Congress needs to find money to pay for new...