Binance, SBF, ETH and Gensler Get Mentions at Republican Presidential Debate

Republican leadership contender Vivek Ramaswamy got the first crypto question.

AccessTimeIconDec 7, 2023 at 2:37 a.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 3:50 p.m. UTC
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Crypto got a mention at the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night held in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, when Vivek Ramaswamy was asked about his crypto policy.

The question directed towards Ramaswamy referenced the recent guilty plea of former Binance CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, who was recently charged with breaking sanctions and money-transmitting laws.

"Fraudsters, criminals, and terrorists have been defrauding people for a long time," Ramaswamy began. "Our regulations need to catch up with the current moment."

"The fact that SBF was able to do what he did FTX shows that whatever they have is the current framework isn't working," he continued.

Ramaswamy is one of the few politicians to specifically make crypto part of his campaign.

Ramaswamy announced a plan to drastically reduce the SEC workforce and relax regulations on the crypto industry, advocating for most cryptocurrencies to be treated as commodities outside the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) jurisdiction, CoinDesk recently reported.

"It's nothing short of embarrassing that Gary Gensler, the SEC [chair], couldn't even confirm in front of Congress whether Ethereum is a regulated security," Ramaswamy said. "This is another example of the administrative state going too far."

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – who originally ran for president as a Democrat and is now a declared Independent – proposed exempting bitcoin from capital gains tax, backing the dollar with assets like gold and bitcoin, and supporting the right to self-custody bitcoin and run blockchain nodes, aiming to strengthen the dollar and encourage financial innovation and privacy.

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) also got a mention during the debate, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis saying that they'll be "dead on arrival" if he's elected president. CBDCs were apparently one of the hottest issues in Florida's politics over the summer, with more phone calls reportedly coming into his office on the topic than the usual wedge issues.

DeSantis signed a bill purporting to ban CBDCs into law, though experts cast doubt that the law would actually do anything.

Later during the debate, Ramaswamy claimed the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol was an inside job and that the great replacement theory is "a basic statement of the Democratic Party's platform."

UPDATE (Dec. 7, 2023, 03:03 UTC): Adds details about CDBC mention.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.

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