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Would it matter if the US Speaker of the House was a Bitcoiner?
Political intrigue in Washington has Bitcoin-friendly politicians rising to the top.
“There is no capacity to kill Bitcoin. Even the Chinese with their firewall and their extreme intervention in their society could not kill Bitcoin…you can’t kill Bitcoin. But new iterations of this that are trying to mimic it, that are not fully distributed, that are not fully open, there are different mechanisms to kill it…the essence of Bitcoin is what Libra and Facebook and corporates are trying to mimic.”
So said Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry in July 2019 on CNBC.
Who is McHenry and why is it notable that he be mentioned on this Bitcoin-focused website now?
If you’ve caught wind of the some of the political turbulence in the American capital lately, you’ll know that the Speaker of the House, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, has been forcefully “vacated” from his position as third-in-line to the President and the chief legislator of the lower legislative chamber in the United States.
The reasons for this institutional coup d’état are interesting alone ($33 trillion in debt and $2+ trillion budgets will do that), but what others have found more striking that that the empty Speaker’s chair has been temporarily filled by the aforementioned McHenry, a noted Bitcoiner and currently chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee.
He has co-sponsored legislation on the legality of stablecoins and a regulatory structure for Bitcoin and its crypto-offspring, and has often hooked horns with SEC chairman Gary Gensler, who many see as either a secret Bitcoin champion or silent assassin of all cryptocurrencies.
In fact, in early 2021, Rep. McHenry was the first US politician to formally host the Bitcoin whitepaper on his government-owned congressional website.
When McHenry posted the PDF on his site, I noted it at the time with a bit of skepticism. I knew McHenry and his positions fairly well. I was a newspaper reporter in his district in my early 20s, and found little reason to arch an eyebrow out of interest when it came to his public policy choices (he has been a noted opponent of allowing cannabis businesses to open bank accounts).
In the fall of 2023, however, there is ever more reason to concentrate on McHenry has his attitude to Bitcoin. Due to the sinking of McCarthy’s speakership, McHenry is the speaker pro tempore of the US House, endowing him with certain authority when it comes to House procedure and rule-making.
Though the House won’t convene until another Speaker of the House has been elected by a majority of the GOP conference, the temporarily placement of McHenry atop the Speaker’s chair has elicited much excitement among politically-active Bitcoiner and crypto folks.
It begs the question: what would happen if the Speaker of the House — arguably one of the most powerful people in US domestic politics — was a Bitcoiner? Would it change political attitude toward Satoshi’s innovation? Would it mean an open season on Bitcoin-friendly rules and laws emanating from the nation’s capital that would have influence across the West?
This is an additional curiosity because another powerful GOP lawmaker, Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, is also a Bitcoin-friendly politician who’s name has been rumored as a potential Speaker candidate. He’s sponsored and introduced bills both protecting Bitcoin private keys from seizure and outlawing CBDCs.
Emmer is already well positioned as a powerful GOP legislator within the leadership. McHenry has standing now as chairman of one of the most vital committees and now an interim speaker until a formal vote is held.
While they would likely advance plenty of conservative legislation that may or may not be favorable to Bitcoiners, we can assume that hostility to Bitcoin from the Republican House would at least be extinguished and replaced with some enthusiasm.
Will that matter or change anything?
At least legislatively, and this may be controversial among Bitcoin policy people, but I see no need to have additional federal laws on Bitcoin. Perhaps there are some clearer guidelines that could be explained or mandated at agencies like the IRS, the FBI, or to any of the banking authorities, but Bitcoin is, like McHenry stated, unable to be killed in any meaningful way. No matter how hard they try.
So any positive legislation on Bitcoin wouldn’t really be necessary, but I could definitely see a capacity for generally pro-crypto policy that would halt debanking of those who stack sats via their bank accounts, or perhaps the tech-neutral crypto bills that grant commodity status to competing tokens like Ethereum.
Perhaps they could even stop the fiat money printing that has continued to imperil the American people with debt and deficits that make their lives worse? Who knows.
I’ve already written about how political Bitcoin is now all the rage — especially with presidential contenders like Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr., GOP businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and even Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — even if it comes packaged with a lot of other really bad ideas.
What’s more necessary than anything, when it comes to Bitcoin’s place in politics, is that it’s mostly left alone and we remain free to do whatever we wish. That’s bigger than any political plan or piece of legislation. It’s the attitude of negative rights versus positive ones. “Congress shall not infringe,” but on money.
Again, this would have to take place within a Congress that is open to the idea — or willing to be convinced — and it may move some institutional money into the Orange Coin for the time being. But it’s a tall order, and probably not necessary anyway.
It’s a nice thought experiment, but to the many of us who have paid attention to politics — especially the politics of Bitcoin — there’s every reason to be skeptical and even apprehensive. Bitcoin is not the wonder that it is because of any law or institution. If anything, it was created to route around the entire system because it is largely ruled by fiat.
If the US had a Speaker of the House who was a Bitcoiner, things would marginally be better, but only as an added benefit. Considering the bribes of cash and gold bars allegedly doled out to Senators, perhaps they’d even stack stats faster than the rest of us. That ain’t so great. But I digress.
The rest of us would continue to live, stack sats, live value-for-value, and continue to opt out of fiat insanity. Questioned on that value, I’m happy with my own decision to stay sovereign. How about you?
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