David Dayen

David Dayen is the executive editor of The American Prospect. His work has appeared in The Intercept, The New RepublicHuffPostThe 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. His email is ddayen@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Controversial Change to Consumer Rights Postponed

After hours of debate, the American Law Institute gives up on a radical reinterpretation of consumer contract law.

On Monday, I wrote about an obscure group called the American Law Institute, which was about to approve a sweeping reinterpretation of consumer contract law. It would have obligated consumers to the terms and conditions of a business even if they never read the contract or knew the contract existed. The ALI’s vote to approve the reinterpretation was scheduled for Tuesday, but after four hours of debate, it was postponed indefinitely. “The bottom line is that none of the substantive proposals were adopted,” said Deepak Gupta, a consumer rights attorney and former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau staffer, who attended the session. “In my view that’s a win for consumers.” At issue was what is known as a Restatement of consumer contract law. These are summaries of common law in the 50 states. Judges, law students, and arbitration panels rely on them quite often as a reference to what the law says. Typically, Restatements are devised and approved...

The Secret Vote That Could Wipe Away Consumer Rights

A legal society is reinterpreting the law on consumer contracts to make it even easier to fool people with bad terms and conditions, critics charge.

Cliff Owen/AP Photo
An obscure meeting of elite jurists in Washington could adopt a sweeping change to contract law on Tuesday, binding anyone visiting a website to that business’s terms and conditions, even if they never read them or knew they existed. Those terms could include mandatory arbitration clauses to settle disputes, privacy policies involving the selling of personal data, and virtually anything else a business wanted to throw in. It could even allow companies to change those terms after the fact. These transformations aren’t being debated in the halls of Congress or state legislatures or anywhere in the public square. They would be enacted by the American Law Institute (ALI), a convening of around 4,000 lawyers, law professors, and judges (including every member of the Supreme Court). It’s “the unofficial College of Cardinals of the U.S. legal profession,” said Adam Levitin, a professor at Georgetown Law and a consumer protection expert, who has been a leading...

Trump's Most Nakedly Corrupt Tweet Yet

As the president props up lobbyists and cronies, Democrats must respond with aggressive oversight.

Evan Vucci/AP Photo
It used to be that I was concerned that the media was paying too much attention to Donald Trump’s tweets; now I’m concerned that they’re not paying enough. This week a random tweet from the president sunk a congressional bill destined for passage, all to please a friend and lobbyist whose clients would have been harmed by the legislation. That’s the staggeringly normal state of our modern kleptocracy, and the Democratic House can do something about it, by rethinking what it means to investigate corruption. The tweet came unprompted and out of nowhere. “Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!” Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally! — Donald J. Trump (@...

How to Replace the Trump Tax Cuts Is the Story of 2020

Democrats need to be specific about repealing the Trump tax cuts. 

Gerald Herbert/AP Photo
On Tuesday, Kamala Harris became the first 2020 candidate to call for the full repeal of the Trump tax cuts, taking aim at an unpopular law which delivered a large share of its benefits to the wealthy and corporations. She wants to re-channel revenue from that law into the LIFT Act, a lower- and middle-class tax credit for families making up to $100,000 per year. This trade-out of a regressive tax cut for a progressive tax credit highlights something that every 2020 candidate is going to have to explain. Democratic voters will not expect a Democratic government to stick with a tax code change that has been rightly bashed since its introduction. They’re going to expect candidates who uniformly voted against that bill to call for its repeal. And they’re going to want to know what the candidates plan to do with the proceeds instead. Among other things, this gets so-called big-government liberals out of a familiar box. Harris, in her Tuesday speech in Detroit, sneered at the...

Resisting Trump’s Politicization of the Census

Trump’s intention is to undercount noncitizens, and Supreme Court conservatives appear on board.

Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
I don’t want to be a pessimist, but a cursory look at oral arguments in the Supreme Court case over whether the Trump administration can pose a citizenship question on the 2020 census offers no room for hope. It just seems likely that the Roberts Court is sufficiently political to waive aside whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted illegally in demanding the question. The only number you need to know is 6.5 million: That’s the projected number of people, both citizen and noncitizen, that a Census Bureau analysis predicted would go uncounted if the question was included on the 2020 form. That number would come mainly from immigrants who are afraid to turn in the forms and expose themselves or a family member to possible deportation. Career officials at the Census Bureau warned Ross about this likely undercount, but of course that’s the whole point—to shortchange immigrant-rich areas for federal dollars and electoral apportionment, the raw material used to...