Health & Science

David Dayen’s Best Of 2020

David Dayen's Best Of 2020

This post originally appeared on The American Prospect.

I wrote well over 300 stories this year, most of them as part of a daily roundup of the pandemic’s effect on public health, the economy, and our lives. Here’s a sampling of that work:

Congress’s Biggest Obstacle

A profile of the Congressional Budget Office, which is given the task of forecasting the economic impact of legislation, an impossible job that produces random and often wrong numbers that still have tremendous impact on the direction of policy.

The Coronavirus Outbreak Is an Economic Red Flag

On February 12, my birthday, I wrote my first piece about the coronavirus, not realizing that it would be pretty much the only thing I’d write about all year. This was about how the pandemic in its origin point in China was radically upending supply chains and manufacturing.

Unsanitized: Bailouts, a Tradition Unlike Any Other

Unsanitized: The CARES Act’s Temporary Relief for Individuals Is, in Fact, Temporary

Unsanitized: Yes, the CARES Act Really Did Induce Premature State Reopenings

Unsanitized has been a first draft of history ever since I started it in early March. I am pleased with how it holds up. These three pieces give the feel of one of Unsanitized’s key themes: my contention that Democrats in Congress made a fatal mistake with the main economic relief bill, the CARES Act, by making its individual fiscal relief provisions temporary.

How the Fed Bailed Out the Investor Class Without Spending a Cent

The $4.5 trillion “money cannon” was an example of economic gunboat diplomacy. Just placing it offshore of Wall Street was enough to enrich the investor class dramatically, while non-stockholders continued to suffer.

Your Coronavirus Check Is Coming. Your Bank Can Grab It.

Leaked audio from federal regulators revealed they gave banks the green light to use an individual’s stimulus check to pay off existing debts. Later, I found that USAA Bank was grabbing the emergency payments, a policy they reversed.

Dr. Jekyll, or Mr. Biden?

After Joe Biden got the nomination, I spent a couple of months talking to policymakers and advisers about whether he can meet the crisis moment and build an economy that works for everyone.

The Triumphant Return of Congress

The Big Tech Report That’s Not About Big Tech

Google’s Guardians

One of the quiet but revolutionary trends this year was the end of Big Tech’s dominion over Washington. These stories, about the House Antitrust Committee’s work on the tech industry and the antitrust lawsuit against Google, document that shift from pliant acceptance of Big Tech to hard-charging demands for reform.

The Winter of Our Discontent

In September, I forecast the chaotic 78 days between the election and the inauguration, and I have to say it rings incredibly true to what eventually resulted.

Business, Interrupted

One unheralded reason that restaurants and other retail businesses have been collapsing this year is that their business interruption insurance did not pay out in the pandemic, even if it specifically said pandemics were covered. This story looks at the insurance industry’s evasion of accountability.

Social Distancing

The past year of coronavirus has severed already frayed bonds between rich and poor more than I even thought possible. We are increasingly living in two different universes, and this piece details that, along with how public policy can reverse this troubling circumstance.

David Dayen

David Dayen is the author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize. Follow him on Twitter: @ddayen.