Entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy pulled no punches in a recent podcast interview, offering full-throated support for cryptocurrency innovation while warning of a repeat of Operation Choke Point government actions that could stifle the nascent sector.
Ramaswamy, who founded biotech firm Roivant Sciences and asset management firm Strive Asset Management, is running a fiery, issues-focused campaign for US President in 2024. He sees the regulatory pressures facing cryptocurrencies as emblematic of America’s broader decline. In an interview with On the Brink with Castle Island, the outspoken Republican businessman made clear he was one of the race’s most pro-crypto voices.
“The way in which the regulatory assault, which I believe is just beginning on crypto as a sector broadly, is really just an embodiment of our national decline. That’s something that goes to the core of my campaign,” Ramaswamy said.
The entrepreneur is personally bullish on Bitcoin and mining, which he called “a frontier in American innovation” that follows the tradition of Thomas Jefferson. “I think that he would have been a Bitcoin miner,” he said.
Ramaswamy argued against a proposed excise tax on Bitcoin mining under which firms would face a tax equal to 30 percent of the cost of the electricity they use in crypto mining. Different uses of energy should receive equal treatment, he said. “[The U.S. government] shouldn’t go out of their way to erect barriers for one particular sector.”
The wannabe-politician called the proposed legislation “wrong,” “unconstitutional,” and a “weaponization of the law” that would require “surveillance for the usage of energy” and punish one industry’s energy use over others.
Where Ramaswamy really brought heat was on what he termed “Choke Point 6.0,” – a part-comical reference to a pattern of federal regulators indirectly restricting disfavored industries through pressure on banks and other private actors.
Operation Choke Point 2.0 gained traction earlier this year when the law firm Cooper & Kirk accused U.S. regulators of weaponizing banking against the crypto industry.
He pointed to precedents like the Obama-era Operation Choke Point and recent climate policy efforts as examples of the same likely unconstitutional coercion now facing crypto. “It’s just part of a litany of an assault on liberties,” Ramaswamy said, “using the veneer, the smokescreen, that avatar of private behavior, as an excuse for the government to be able to choke an industry out of existence.”
“The government does not have the political mandate from the voters to ban a behavior or a form of speech or expression through the front door through Congress…so the government instead uses a complex series of levers to accomplish through the backdoor through the private sector what it could not get done through the front door under the Constitution,” he explained.
In contrast to narratives about educating resistant regulators, the candidate argues “The problem isn’t that the government isn’t educated about what you’re doing – it’s that they, many of them are, but they’re constrained in their ability to go after and choke crypto or Bitcoin out of existence.”
Ramaswamy sees cryptocurrencies and stablecoins pegged to the US dollar (as most are) as capable of peaceful coexistence or even mutual reinforcement. With currency competition looming, he reasons failures by central banks may only strengthen the case for alternatives like Bitcoin.
Whilst he believed it was in the U.S. best interest to have the dollar as the reserve currency of the world, he acknowledged that Bitcoin “holds the government’s feet to the fire.” He also believed that stablecoins, which are one of the biggest holders of U.S. Treasuries, could be synergistic with the U.S dollar.
“If you can’t defend your own value proposition, and you’re trying to choke out the competition, it means you probably should work on your own value proposition,” Ramaswamy concluded.