U.S. Congressman McHenry Calls Bitcoin ‘An Unstoppable Force’ at Libra Hearing

As far as cryptocurrency fans are concerned, one U.S. Congressman, Patrick McHenry, was the star of the House Financial Services Committee hearing on Libra on Wednesday (July 17). 

Before we talk about what happened at this hearing, and more specifically, how Congressman McHenry managed to endear himself to all blockchain and cryptocurrency fans, it might be helpful to present a very brief biography of him here.

Patrick Timothy McHenry is the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 10th congressional district. He is serving his eight term at the U.S. congress, where he is currently the Republican Leader of the House Financial Services Committee, "a committee he has served on since he was elected to Congress" (in 2004, when he was just 29 years old).

On Wednesday (July 17), a day after Facebook's David Marcus, who is a co-creator of Libra and the head of the Calibra project, faced tough questions at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (aka "Senate Banking Committee"), came the real grilling at a full hearing (titled "Examining Facebook’s Proposed Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Consumers, Investors, and the American Financial System") of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), who had previously implored Facebook to stop working on the Libra project until Congress could understand better the implications of what Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency, started the hearing by delivering a prepared statement, during which she, once again, expressed her "serious concerns with Facebook’s plans":

This venture is slated to be based in Switzerland, which has a history as a monetary haven for criminals and shady corporations. Facebook’s plans raise serious privacy, trading, national security, and monetary policy concerns, not only for Facebook’s over 2 billion users, who will have immediate access to these products, but also for consumers, investors and the global economy.

 Congressman McHenry's gave his opening remarks around 11:00 (Eastern Time). Here were the main highlights:

  • "Washington must go beyond the hype and ensure that it's not the place where innovation goes to die."
  • "Just because we may not fully understand a new technology proposal does not mean we should immediately call for its prohibition, especially when that proposal is just that — a proposal."
  • "The reality is whether Facebook is involved or not, change is here. Digital currencies exist. Blockchain technology is real. And Facebook's entry in this world is just confirmation, albeit at scale."
  •  "The world that Satoshi Nakamoto, author of the Bitcoin whitepaper, envisioned—and others are building—is an unstoppable force."
  • "We should not attempt to deter this innovation, and governments cannot stop this innovation. And those that have tried have already failed."
  • "Instead of a knee jerk reaction of banning something before it begins, my Replication colleagues and I want to first try an understanding. An in turn, based off what we learn, determine whether or not our current regulatory framework meets the demands of this new technology."  

Then, around 15:30 (ET), McHenry began his questioning of David Marcus about Libra; some of his most interesting questions are listed below.

McHenry: Is it a security?

Marcus: We don't believe it is, Congressman.

McHenry: Is it a commodity?

Marcus: Congressman, based on current U.S. law, it might be a commodity, but we see it as a payment tool.

McHenry: Is it an exchange traded fund?

Marcus: It is not, Congressman.

Congressman McHenry repeated his claim about Bitcoin being an unstoppable force during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC's morning news and talk program "Squawk Box":

I think there is no capacity to kill Bitcoin. Even the Chinese with their firewall and their extreme intervention in their society could not kill Bitcoin.

Sorkin then told McHenry that although it might not be possible to technically "kill" Bitcoin, it was possible for governments to create legislation that made access to Bitcoin illegal for their citizens at fiat on/off ramps such as exchanges (e.g. Coinbase) and custodial wallets (e.g. Calibra), and that would "effectively make it very very difficult for the mainstream to use it." Sorkin then said that's why investors in Bitcoin were worried, which explained the recent drop in price.

McHenry replied:

Yes, so the price has come down to roughly $10,000... But you are talking about something that... people were giving away for free. It's now trading at $10,000... But the essence of Bitcoin is what Libra, Facebook, and corporates are trying to mimic.

 

Tim Draper Explains Why Buffett Is Bashing Bitcoin, CZ Invites Him to Lunch

Siamak Masnavi

On Monday (February 24), legendary American tech investor Tim Draper spoke about why he recently moved most of his investment funds into crypto, why he is still bullish on Bitcoin and confident about his $250 price prediction, and why he thinks billionaire investor Warren Buffett is so critical of Bitcoin.

Draper, a co-founder of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and an early investor in quite a few unicorns, including Hotmail, Skype, Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter, was being interviewed on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" at a time when U.S. stocks were down (due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic) and Bitcoin was trading around $9,700.

Principal anchor Carl Quintanilla started the interview by asking Draper about his thoughts on the valuations of U.S. stocks and whether thery were too frothy.

Draper Replied:

"Actually, I got to admit [that] I have been out of the market for about six months. It felt pretty lofty for me, and I kind of moved most of my stuff to crypto and Bitcoin. I think that's kind of a safe haven now, and I think this correction may end up being more than that, but I think we're in for a kind of an interesting ride."

Quintanilla then wanted to know what pushed Draper out of stocks six months ago.

Draper said:

"Well, it just got very frothy -- the market got too excited and Uber drivers were doing day trading, and you know all the signs were there. So, I think it was time.

"I think it's a good time to be in the private markets -- that's what I do, and so at Draper Associates, we're very happy that we're continuing to be in the private markets, but I think in the public markets. it just got frothy and then there's the fear of socialism.

"I mean, nobody wants socialism. Capitalism may only work 70% of the time, but socialism has never worked in the history of man. So, I don't understand why there's this move, but I think there's some fear there, and I think there's some interesting things coming."

Co-anchor Morgan Brennan then asked Draper where he saw the Bitcoin going from here.

Draper answered:

"I'm still holding to my prediction. I think Bitcoin in 2022, or at the beginning of 2023, will hit $250,000, and that is a big move from where it is here. And I think that the reason is that Bitcoin will be the currency of choice.

Right now, you have this choice, and Bitcoin is not as easy to move around, but eventually it will be, and then you'll have a choice, and you'll say 'hey do I want to pay the banks 2.5 to 4 percent every time I swipe my credit card or do I want a currency that's frictionless, open, transparent, global, and not tied to any political force?'.

"At some point people are going to make that switch and Bitcoin is going to be the big winner."

Another co-anchor, Jon Fortt, wanted to know how much of Draper's money was invested in Bitcoin, but Draper did want to give him a specific number, and he just said "a lot of it." 

He then added:

"I think the world is going to be much better off because [of] this decentralized movement, and it's not just Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is decentralized currency, but it's decentralized everything, and I think that the some of the politicians are clinging to the past and clinging to their tribalism, but most of the best politicians are moving toward this new world that's global and open and transparent.

I think that's going to be the new world. I think it'll be a more beautiful, more loving, and more peaceful world, but you're going to see a lot of tension on the way to getting to that world."

Draper was also asked by Quintanilla to comment on Warren Buffett's interview on the same program earlier in the day, when he said that cryptocurrencies have "no value" and "don't produce anything" and that people who invest in them are essentially believers in The Greater Fool Theory. Buffett also said in the same interview that he would never own any crypto (even though TRON Foundation CEO Justin Sun has claimed that during a recent dinner, he gave Buffett as gifts two Samsung Galaxy Fold phones containing Bitcoin and a few other cryptocurrencies).

Draper had this to say:

"That is hilarious. 50% of his holdings are banks and insurance companies. They're not gonna do well in this new decentralized economy.

Of course, he is not going to like it. He sees a huge threat to his holdings -- his holdings are more than 50 percent in banks and insurance companies [at Berkshire Hathaway]."

After seeing this interview, Binance Co-Founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao (aka "CZ") went on Twitter to compliment Draper on his excellent understanding of crypto, and invited him to lunch so that they could have a chance to speak on this topic:

Last month, Draper was asked during an interview on FOX Business to give his "best advice" to millennials when it comes to investing for retirement.

He offered this advice:

"Go Bitcoin, go decentralized, start building your empire in the new model that doesn't require that you to have to pay two and a half to four percent every time you swipe your credit card to some bank or another and doesn't require all the heavy regulations we have that are all tied to the dollar... I think if you really want it to work, I think you go Bitcoin or crypto or the new way... I would focus on the future..."