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Before the rise of “Bitcoin Mayors” like Francis Suarez in Miami or Eric Adams in New York City, there was pro-crypto presidential candidate Andrew Yang, the Venture for America co-founder who who counted Bitcoin, math, and Universal Basic Income among his main talking points. After unsuccessful runs for president in 2020 and New York City mayor in 2021, Yang is now focused on his Forward Party PAC and his lobbying DAO Lobby3, which aims to use crypto to spur change in Washington.
And Yang says the change is coming in the form of crypto regulation, whether the industry is ready or not. On the latest episode of Decrypt‘s gm podcast, he described crypto regulation in Washington as an oncoming train that cannot be stopped, and the only question left is, “What's the cargo?”
The Biden White House's recent “Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets” suggests he's right, though the gist of the executive order was more of a call to action to agencies to get on the same page than a concrete proposal for what those rules will be.
“The days of folks saying there shouldn't be any regulation in this space are ending,” Yang said. “The days of being off of DC's menu or radar screen are very, very quickly coming to an end. And so the question is, What will the rules be? Will they be intelligent guard rails that help manage the risks, and frankly, mainstream some aspects of Web3? Or will they be unmindful of the positive side of the ledger in terms of innovation, jobs, technological developments—and push a lot of this stuff offshore? No one's quite sure where it's going to land.”
Yang's argument is that representatives from the crypto industry need to band together to get on the same page—much like the regulators—and work with Washington to ensure the rules won't be draconian.
“The value difference is so immense, that it seems to me to be common sense to try to paint a broader, more holistic, more accurate picture of the community and the uses of the technology,” Yang said, “so that the regulations fall somewhere on, as a friend of mine put it, ‘the non-insane realm.'”
Lobbying for openness toward crypto in D.C. will be a challenge, since Yang guesses that the number of people in Washington who have a crypto wallet is “vanishingly small.” He also acknowledges that certain prominent politicians (many of them in his former Democratic Party) have repeatedly made statements about crypto that “indicate hostility or negative attitude. I have it on reasonably good authority that that attitude is shared by a variety of people within the Treasury Department and the SEC. So if you just let nature take its course, I'm going to suggest that the result might be very, very unfriendly.”