The time is ripe for Congress to probe and enact meaningful reforms to regulate cryptocurrencies, one of the most tortured topics in the United States today.
We’re just weeks removed from the colossal collapse of FTX, the once-popular crypto trading platform formerly run by founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
I wrote in November about how Bankman-Fried’s downfall cost a lot of rich investors their money, leading some of them — who’ve previously demurred over government regulation — to call for more government oversight of the crypto world.
And just last week, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, an independent agency of the U.S. government that is increasingly tasked with policing the crypto world, urged lawmakers during a Senate hearing to pass regulatory measures focused on digital currencies.
There’s clearly some momentum to take action on cryptocurrency — the only question is how substantive any action will be given the divided Congress set to take control in January.
To be clear, Democrats in the Senate are already probing the FTX collapse, and Democrats in the House have scheduled a hearing on the matter for next week.
But Republicans preparing to hold the House majority have vowed to pursue more conspiratorial threads relating to crypto. Specifically, right-wingers have tried to cast Bankman-Fried as an exclusive benefactor to left-leaning causes — and Ukraine — to portray the FTX collapse as some sort of liberal money scheme. (Note how this theory serves two archconservative goals: slandering Democrats and parroting pro-Russian taking points about Ukraine.)
Unfortunately for Republicans, many of these claims have been dispelled.
Bankman-Fried, for example, has been known to donate to Republicans and Democrats alike. Recently, he even claimed —without evidence — that he was among the top donors to Republicans this election cycle, a feat he said he was able to accomplish in secret due to laws permitting “dark money” donations to political causes. And, as The Washington Post noted last week, other FTX officials donated large sums of money to Republicans as well, without facing nearly the same scrutiny as Bankman-Fried.
Fundamentally, what this means is that both major parties have connections to cryptocurrencies, and rather than lean on opportunistic disinformation, there should be nationwide incentives to root out the powerful influence these kinds of volatile “assets” can wield in our politics. That should mean serious – not specious — investigations into crypto.
Democrats and Republicans have shown a troubling obsession with this still-unproven technology — a technology, I should add, that has grave implications for the environment and the failure of which has hit Black people especially hard.
In an ideal world, the new Congress would still find a way to properly probe these things and produce legislation to fix them. Rest assured, I won’t be holding my breath waiting on that.