Will Biden and Trump Face Off Over Crypto Tonight?

The amount of airtime that crypto gets during Thursday’s debate between President Biden and former President Donald Trump could sway a significant slice of single-issue voters.

The regulatory treatment of digital assets has become a rallying cry for former president Trump, who flipped from Bitcoin skeptic to a “Crypto President” in recent weeks. Yet many wonder whether Trump, alongside the talk, will push for crypto in front of millions of Americans.

Traders on the decentralized prediction market Polymarket are penciling in a 61% chance, as of this writing, that Trump mentions Bitcoin or crypto during Thursday’s debate. So far, the wager has garnered $127,000 in bets, alongside other words that Trump could utter into his mic.

Hosted by CNN, Trump may leverage the debate as a high-profile opportunity to skewer the Biden administration’s treatment of digital assets. Under current leadership, the industry has faced an uptick in scrutiny that emerged after the crypto exchange FTX collapsed in 2022.

Lawsuits brought against major crypto firms like Coinbase under the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Biden-appointed Chairman Gary Gensler have also ruffled feathers across the industry.

Trump’s recent embrace of crypto can be traced to a gala last month. At a Mar-a-Lago event for holders of his Trump-themed NFTs, Trump signaled he was “good” with crypto, while assailing Gensler as someone who “is very much against it.”

Since then, the former president has started accepting crypto donations, while calling for more Bitcoin to be “made in the U.S.A.” During the latter appearance, Trump disavowed central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) as well, a digital form of currency that could soon be outlawed in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has clashed with crypto miners. A year ago, the White House defended a proposal that would’ve put a 30% excise tax on electricity consumed by mining firms because they “do not have to pay for the full cost they impose on others.”

The abrupt approval of spot Ethereum ETFs in May, however, left analysts speculating that political pressure was a motivating factor behind the last-minute about-face. There are also reports that the Biden administration has recently sought guidance on crypto from industry players. 

Still, Biden backed the SEC when he vetoed a bill last month that was set to erase guidance for banks on custodying digital assets. Known as Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB) 121, Biden wrote he would “not support measures that jeopardize the well-being of consumers and investors.”

While the SEC’s guidance was ultimately upheld, there was language in Biden’s statement suggesting that he and Trump may agree on one crypto-related matter. 

“My Administration is eager to work with the Congress to ensure a comprehensive and balanced regulatory framework for digital assets,” Biden wrote, adding that it would “help reinforce United States leadership in the global financial system.”

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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