Election 2024: The Contenders vs. Bitcoin

Your weekly Bitcoin update, from Apollo

The US Presidential Election is six months away. While the campaigning is yet to get fully underway, the candidates all seem to be locked in place.

There are plenty of reasons to prefer one candidate or another (or none at all). But if you’re a single-issue bitcoin voter, or just care what the three candidates have said, done, and promised vis-a-vis bitcoin and crypto, then this is is for you:

A breakdown of the three candidates’ positions and performance, and a prediction of how each would represent you, dear bitcoiner, as the forty-seventh President of the United States.

The Stakes

A quick word on why this matters. The President nominally controls the Executive branch of government. In practice this control varies with many factors, for example which party they belong, to and how advanced their dementia is.

In any case, let’s assume the President does their job. Then the scope of their power to regulate bitcoin and crypto includes:

  • Criminal prosecutorial agencies e.g. Department of Justice (DOJ);

  • Civil enforcement agencies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); and

  • Financial regulatory agencies like the U.S. Treasury Department and its incumbent Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Let’s get into it.

The Contenders

Joe Biden

Joseph R. Biden: the reigning, defending, undisputed(ish) President of the United States.

It’s not clear what, if anything, Biden thinks about bitcoin and crypto. It appears he’s never made any direct public statement on the subject.

It’s a moot point anyway, because his administration has had a full term in office and an extensive legislative track record - and it’s not good.

The Beginning: Executive Order

On March 9 2022, President Biden set the stage for his administration’s approach to bitcoin with an executive order that established a whole-of-government approach to the oversight and development of digital assets.

It set a policy aimed at exploring CBDCs, investigating the impact of digital assets on ‘climate change’, mitigating the evasion of sanctions and other illicit activities.

In short, it was to be policy-by-FUD. Below is a list of many (though not all) of actions, regulations, and statements made by the current regime from the past couple of year.

Biden’s Reign

Treasury Department

Starting with Janet Yellen’s Treasury Department, they have:

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

The SEC has been the most high profile agency during Biden’s reign, with a couple of highlights and several lowlights.

The one industry win of Gensler’s SEC was the approval of the spot Bitcoin ETFs. However, it’s likely their hands were forced thanks to rulings against them in a lawsuit brought by Grayscale.

The SEC has been aggressive in bringing enforcement actions against a variety of companies, including: Kraken, Coinbase, Metamask, Uniswap, and Robinhood.

And apparently they’ve internally designated Ethereum as a security and are unlikely to approve the ETH spot ETF.

Department of Justice (DoJ)

The DoJ has led several recent criminal actions; some probably legitimate, and some questionable. Just some of them include:

  • Indicted and arrested the founders of Samourai Wallet and Tornado Cash for money laundering and unlicensed money transmitter violations.

  • Brought charges against Binance founder CZ for AML / unlicensed money transmitter violations.

  • Charged and arrested early bitcoiner Roger Ver for tax fraud.

  • Is investigating Block for alleged compliance violations.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The IRS has been ramping up its scrutiny on bitcoin and crypto as well:

Elizabeth Warren

We’re including Elizabeth Warren here because despite the fact that she’s not technically in the Biden administration, she is the most vocal crypto critic in Washington DC and is at the very least highly influential.

Here are some of her hits:

Final grade: D+

The good: some bad actors and scammers have been brought to justice, and the spot bitcoin ETFs got approved.

The bad: enforcement actions and prosecutions have been extremely broad, seemingly arbitrary, there’s been little industry guidance or progress on things like stablecoins, and the Democrats have the most hysterical anti-bitcoin and crypto advocates in the nation.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

As the only candidate of the three without a track record in office, we can only go by what RFK has said in recent times. Fortunately, he’s said quite a lot.

Overall, RFK is by far the most pro-bitcoin and crypto candidate. Some of his proposals have included:

He also owns bitcoin, per public disclosures.

Anyway, the best way to understand RFK’s positions is to just listen to the man himself.

Here, you can watch the keynote speech he gave at Bitcoin 2023 in Miami last year:

He also gave more recent interview, in which he said:

Our priority is transactional freedom, and promoting America as a hub for cryptocurrency innovation. As a way to rebuild the wealth of the middle class, to end the war economy. Fiat currency is the product of a war economy. [Wars] never end because we can print money all the time.”

Final grade: A

The uncertain: Some of his more outlandish ideas border on the nonsensical, like backing the dollar with bitcoin, and putting the budget “on the blockchain.”

The good: RFK seems to sincerely believe in bitcoin’s potential and importance as freedom technology, and demonstrably knows far more about it than the other two candidates.

Donald J. Trump

Donald Trump: the 45th and perhaps 47th President of the United States.

What does he think about bitcoin and crypto? What did he do? while President? What we do next time?

Let’s take a look.

Trump’s Presidency: Bark versus Bite

As is the case with almost every issue with Trump, you need to consider what he says separately from what he does. Rhetoric and policy sometimes overlap, but they have a fairly fluid relationship.

This has certainly been the case with bitcoin and crypto.

In 2019, after Meta’s brief and aborted attempted at launching their stablecoin Libra, Trump had this to say on the subject:

One would think, therefore, that the orange man was uniformly hostile to the orange coin. Perhaps that was true, but it wasn’t necessarily reflected in his appointments.

For instance, he appointed Hester ‘Crypto Mom’ Pierce to the SEC, who famously dissented from a 2018 rejection of bitcoin spot ETFs and has been loudly pro-bitcoin and crypto for years.

On the other hand, he appointed Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, who once said that cryptocurrencies pose a “National security threat” to the United States.

The regulatory record was mixed but largely uneventful. The Financial Action Task Force tightened KYC/AML rules for all exchanges. Though the Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved crypto futures products, and issued helpful guidance for example by defining what ‘actual delivery’ is for crypto products.

Post-Presidency: Degen Don

After leaving office, however, Trump’s views seem to have taken a turn.

And, like so many before him, his opinions may have changed according to the demands of fundraising and/or how much his bags have inflated.

In 2022, he launched Trump Digital Trading Cards, which promptly sold out and netted him several millions dollars.

Then, he disclosed in 2023 that he owned (at the time) $2.8 million in ETH.

Later, after Vivek Ramaswamy’s short-lived but attention-grabbing Republican Primary campaign, Trump appeared to have brought the highly pro-bitcoin former opponent into his inner circle and may be considering him for a Cabinet role.

Most recently, On Fox, was vaguely complimentary to Bitcoin, saying “I can live with it", and that, “You probably have to do some regulation. But many people are embracing it. More and more I'm seeing people wanting to pay bitcoin. ... I can live with it one way or the other."

Trump has also promised to “never allow” CBDCs.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer said, “If the second Trump administration takes place, [the] president will be a lot more friendly to the crypto industry.”

Trump has then seemed to confirm this himself, declaring (about crypto): “I’m fine with it…if you’re in favor of crypto, you better vote Trump”, and stating that he’ll soon accept crypto donations.

Final grade: A

The bigger an enemy of bitcoin and crypto the Democrats seem to be, the more Trump appears to be embracing it. Which means that we’re headed toward full on Degen Don as we approach November.

Trump could always change his mind. You never know. But the man knows how to give the people what they want.

And with polling showing that 1 in 5 voters in swing states say crypto will be a major concern for them come election time, you’d have to think his populist instincts will kick in. Every bitcoiner vote is up for grabs, and he seems to know it.