Cynthia Lummis Is Bringing Bitcoin To The U.S. Senate
On November 3, 2020, the Associated Press declared Cynthia Lummis the winner of an open U.S. Senate seat for Wyoming, making her the first woman to ever represent the state in the upper chamber. But this wasn’t the only first marked by her historic win. As she’s emphasized in recent interviews with GMA3, Fox News and now, Bitcoin Magazine, Lummis is the most outspoken Bitcoin advocate to ever rise to elected office on The Hill.
“I want to help other members of the U.S. Senate understand Bitcoin,” Lummis said when asked about her priorities upon taking office. “So my first couple of years probably will just be talking to people about it, explaining what it is, how it works, what it does, what it can do, what it doesn’t do and why I think it should be part of a diversified asset allocation.”
Lummis said that she first bought BTC in 2013 when the price was about $300. (With bitcoin reaching a new all-time high market cap shortly before our interview, Lummis added, “I wish I owned way more bitcoins than I do.”) She found Bitcoin while serving as Wyoming’s state treasurer in her search for a way to invest the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund while retaining its value and spinning off revenue. Her son-in-law introduced her to Bitcoin and she quickly realized that this was a store of value unlike any other in the contemporary financial landscape.
“Our own currency is by design inflating, by roughly 2 percent per year, giver or take,” Lummis explained. “And so, it loses its buying power every year. By design, bitcoin doesn’t do that. So for those of us who are looking for a whole variety of ways to protect ourselves financially, whether it’s in the stock market … or through something that’s going to store value, something that is scarce like bitcoin, you want to have a diverse mix, and I firmly believe that bitcoin belongs in that mix.”
“My first goal is: keep the federal government at bay,” she said. “Let them know that this is not an area where they need to regulate and let the states be the incubators of innovation… So states can innovate policy around Bitcoin.”
While Lummis is optimistic that peer-to-peer education among her colleagues in the legislative branch could be a cure for the “very little knowledge in the U.S. Senate about Bitcoin,” she expects that she might have to work harder to prevent the president from implementing stifling or misguided Bitcoin regulation.
“The challenge will be to keep regulation at bay over in the executive branch,” she said. “The ways in which our financial laws are implemented through executive orders or through rulemaking, those are going to be the areas that we’re going to have to watch and monitor. So we’ll also be playing that role, trying to monitor the executive branch so they don’t preempt innovation in ways that allow Bitcoin to play out according to its philosophical roots, as envisioned by Satoshi and others.”
Lummis emphasized that the most critical work she can do to propel Bitcoin while in office is to prevent her colleagues on The Hill from passing legislation around it.
“It can really thwart what could be an important player in global commerce, in the ability of people to grow wealth and maintain that source of stability in something that governments can’t get their mitts on,” she said. “So the goal here is to keep government mitts off of it and let it function the way it was designed.”
As publicly-traded enterprises announce bitcoin-accumulation strategies, many in the space have begun to wonder when federal governments will take similar actions. Lummis said that she feels it would be more appropriate for states to maintain funds that include bitcoin as part of their asset allocations, but that there is some room for the federal government to formally invest in bitcoin — on behalf of a decidedly old-school agency, for example.
“In the case of federal funds, the federal government doesn’t have any savings that belong to them, because all we own is debt,” she said. “There is no sovereign wealth at the federal level, but there are retirement funds… A perfect example here is that the federal postal employees’ retirement funds are not invested in a fully-diversified asset allocation. If that’s because of some legislative impediment, we have to withdraw that legislative impediment and I would hope that they would be among the first to invest in bitcoin or have that as a sliver of its asset allocation.”
As noted several times in her conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, Lummis plans to rely heavily on her ability to educate colleagues about Bitcoin as a method for ensuring that the technology is protected from overreach and fostered effectively by states like Wyoming. Specifically, she sees Senate hearings, staff-to-staff education and policy lunches as opportunities to do that. And she thinks that, ultimately, Bitcoin makes its own case.
“I would think that with all of the problems the United States Senate is facing, to know that there’s something out there that wants to innovate outside of the federal sphere that they don’t have to mess with — in fact, that it’s going to be better, healthier, stronger, more innovative if the federal government stays out of it — that will make them very happy,” Lummis said of her Senate colleagues. “It’s not endless wars, it’s not the national debt, it’s not these intractable issues, the eventual insolvency of social security or Medicare. It’s not one of those. This is something that is innovative, that can actually help in addressing some of those fiscal problems.”