This past Wednesday March 14th, the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment, aka “The Committee on Financial Services” conducted a public hearing titled, “Examining the Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets.” During the event we didn not hear from the likes of cryptocurrency and blockchain pundits such as Ethereum’s co-creator Vitalik Buterin or Charlie Lee of Litecoin. Instead we heard from the cryptocurrency market’s worst nemesis - the Washington politician. To say it was pure FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) wouldn't be fair as there were positive opinions in favor of limited regulation of the tech. That being said, it became overwhelmingly clear that many lawmakers in Washington are simply clueless as to how blockchain and cryptocurrency markets operate for those who embrace the technology and create new advances.
The hearing marked the first time Congress has held such a discussion over initial coin offerings (ICOs). Though Coinbase’s chief legal and risk officer Mike Lempres was present he was essentially outgunned by fiat investment expert attorneys such as Robert Rosenblum, a partner with Wilson Goodrich and Rosati Law Firm, along with Georgetown University law professor Dr. Chris Brummer.
While there were many positive mentions of blockchain and cryptocurrency markets, some present in the meeting demonstrated negative sentiment towards the allowance of the public to privately and freely invest. One naysayer in particular was Representative Brad Sherman(D), who represents California's 30th district which doesn't come as a surprise seeing that Sherman's largest donors were from securities and investment firms.
"Cryptocurrencies are popular with guys who like to sit in their pajamas and tell their wives they are going to be millionaires.”
“They help terrorists and criminals move money around the world. Tax evaders. They help startup companies commit fraud, take money, and one percent of the time they actually create a useful business..."
While making his case against cryptocurrency, Sherman made a Freudian slip over the true reason behind his and the governments opposition towards it - they can’t take control over it. “It hurts the US Government in two ways,” Sherman next began to utter what was “Our contr…” before he caught his tongue, the obvious next word to come out being control. This would imply the motive for control over governments the US would like to impose sanctions on and the obvious domestic control to ensure the average citizen is paying their ‘fair share’ of taxes.
The Plus Side
The meeting had many positive notes with those who see the benefits of blockchain technology such as Rep. Tom Emmer(R), who represents Minnesota's 6th district. Emmer who is also part of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus negated Rep. Sherman’s words by saying that he trusted people and that they were simply taking advantage of what is clearly an exciting time in the cryptocurrency world.
“I tend to trust people and believe that they’re in these things for good, and that they’re trying to improve their own lives and hopefully the lives of people around them, that old adage that a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Rep. Emmer went on to say that many of his fellow lawmakers were clueless about how blockchain tech worked and how the cryptocurrency markets operate. “I hear elected officials who don’t have any concept of what we’re dealing with here and how exciting it is, talking about how we got to regulate and create more government infrastructure. I respectfully disagree that that won’t act as a wet blanket on this amazing new technology. I realize there has to be some regulation but there’s got to be balance.”