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Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump: Who’s a Bigger Crypto Proponent?

US presidential candidates and their stance on crypto

President Joe Biden has maintained a stance on cryptocurrency that can best be described as cautious, echoing the sentiment of his predecessor rather than adopting an outright supportive position. Unlike the enthusiasm some politicians have shown towards digital currencies, Biden's administration has taken a measured approach, emphasizing regulation and oversight. 

"Aside from an executive order calling for research on cryptocurrency and a tweet calling out unclear 'tax loopholes that help wealthy crypto investors,'" 

Biden himself has seldom directly addressed the topic. This reticence, however, belies the broader attitude of his administration, which has not shied away from implementing policies affecting the crypto space.

In particular, February 2023 saw renewed fears of Operation Choke Point — an initiative from the Obama era — being leveraged to isolate crypto-related businesses from traditional financial services. This move, documented by Nic Carter, signifies a continuation of a skeptical government stance towards cryptocurrency, further underscored by former advisor Daleep Singh's efforts towards a central bank digital currency (CBDC) to potentially "crowd out the ecosystem of crypto."

Trump's mixed messages on cryptocurrency

Donald Trump's perspective on cryptocurrency has been notably varied, blending acknowledgment of its utility with a clear preference for traditional financial systems. During his presidency and after, Trump expressed both interest and skepticism. His administration's approach to digital currencies was multifaceted, suggesting a recognition of their growing influence but also advocating for stringent regulation. 

Trump mentioned in a CNBC interview, revealing his ambivalence towards the crypto market:

"I'm not sure that I'd want to take it away at this point," 

This comment came after it was disclosed that Trump holds approximately $2.8 million in cryptocurrency, hinting at a pragmatic acceptance of its economic significance.

However, Trump has consistently voiced concerns about cryptocurrencies' potential to disrupt the traditional financial order, emphasizing the need for regulation. 

Trump stated:

"You probably have to do some regulation," 

His apprehension about cryptocurrencies competing with the dollar was evident when he remarked that he "would not allow countries to go off the dollar," indicating a preference for maintaining the U.S. dollar's dominance in global financial markets.

Regulatory actions and the crypto ecosystem

Under President Biden, the focus has intensified on regulating the crypto space, notably with proposals like a 30 percent tax on cryptocurrency miners' energy costs. This move, argued by the White House Council of Economic Advisors, aims to make firms accountable for the "harms they impose on society," even as critics argue it could unduly burden miners using renewable energy sources.

Comparatively, the Trump administration had its regulatory milestones. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), under Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, introduced the controversial wallet rule, aiming to increase financial surveillance. Despite these efforts to tighten regulations, Trump's era also witnessed more nuanced positions from leading officials. Mark Calabria and Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks, for instance, showed openness to cryptocurrency, highlighting a more varied approach within the administration towards digital assets.

This regulatory dichotomy underscores the complex dynamics at play within the U.S. government's engagement with the cryptocurrency sector. Both administrations have contributed to shaping the regulatory framework surrounding digital currencies, reflecting broader concerns about financial security, market stability, and innovation.

The Biden administration's impact on crypto businesses

The Biden administration's approach to cryptocurrency has raised concerns among crypto businesses and investors, particularly through initiatives that seem to target the sector indirectly. A notable example is the revival of Operation Choke Point, an Obama-era policy, in February 2023. This initiative has been perceived as an attempt to restrict crypto-related businesses' access to traditional banking services, effectively sidelining them from the mainstream financial ecosystem. Nic Carter highlighted these developments, emphasizing the increasing pressure from government officials on banks dealing with cryptocurrency.

The proposal for a 30 percent tax on the energy costs of crypto miners, reintroduced in March 2024, represents another significant move by the Biden administration that could impact the operational viability of mining activities. Despite arguments that the tax aims to address environmental concerns, the crypto community has criticized it as a measure that could disadvantage miners, especially those relying on renewable energy sources.

These actions, coupled with the Energy Information Administration's enforcement of information requests on cryptocurrency miners, underscore a challenging regulatory environment under President Biden.

Trump and regulation: a closer look at past comments

Donald Trump's presidency and post-presidency remarks reveal a cautious, if not skeptical, view of cryptocurrencies, particularly concerning their regulation and potential competition with the U.S. dollar. Despite acknowledging the utility of digital currencies, Trump has advocated for significant regulatory oversight. 

Trump articulated in a 2019 tweet:

"I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air," 

This perspective aligns with his broader view on maintaining the supremacy of the dollar in the global financial system.

Trump's approach to cryptocurrency regulation has emphasized the necessity of stringent controls to prevent these digital assets from undermining traditional financial structures. His administration's efforts, from vocal criticisms to regulatory proposals, have underscored a commitment to increased financial surveillance and higher regulatory burdens on crypto activities. These actions reflect a belief in the importance of regulating digital currencies to safeguard the economic and security interests of the United States.