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

The Inslee Difference

The Washington governor’s focus on the climate crisis is prodding his fellow presidential candidates to develop their own Green New Deals.

History yields a few examples of presidential candidacies designed not to win office but to raise attention to a pressing issue: “ free soil ” anti-slavery candidates before the Civil War, Pete McCloskey’s anti-Vietnam War Republican primary challenge to Richard Nixon in 1972 , Ellen McCormack’s bid as an anti-abortion Democrat in 1976. Single-issue candidates aren’t necessarily interested in becoming president as much as pulling the party in their favored direction. Most don’t amount to much. But when I see Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s campaign to deal with the climate crisis, and what that has inspired within the Democratic race, I see the model of a successful single-issue campaign. Inslee has hardly been alone in provoking climate action: the Sunrise Movement has been uniquely effective from the outside, as has Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal from the inside. But a tangible policy is incredibly valuable, and Inslee...

In California, Democratic Hopefuls Counter Biden’s Status Quo Politics

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders offer the most direct challenge yet to the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Jeff Chiu/AP Photo
This article appears in the Summer 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . SAN FRANCISCO—“We asked a two-word question: ‘Why not?’” said Bernie Sanders, reflecting on his 2016 challenge, at a low-dollar fundraiser near the Moscone Center during the California Democratic Party convention. Many of the 14 Democratic presidential candidates who spoke here, at the first real cattle call of the 2020 primary, were asking that same question, daring to think beyond a cramped politics narrowly focused on defeating Donald Trump and exhaling. “Why not” is the language of activists, the language Robert Kennedy paraphrased from George Bernard Shaw in 1968, the language of the “si se puede” cries from farm laborers. It’s not the language of the front-runner in the Democratic primary, and this weekend in San Francisco offered some of the first lines of attack against Joe Biden thus far in the race. Biden had no...

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 (@...