Washington think tank backs anti-CBDC bill

Congress needs to increase efforts to halt the progression of CBDCs and safeguard financial freedoms, according to a Washington, D.C.-based think tank with deep roots in US policy decision-making.

“It also needs to pass legislation preventing the Fed from committing to any ‘pilot’ or other programs involving the development of a CBDC,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute said in a statement on Tuesday.

The US House of Representatives will vote on the “CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act,” on Wednesday, which aims to halt the Federal Reserve from issuing or overseeing the development of a CBDC or Central Bank Digital Currency.

Led by House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-MN., the bill has attracted considerable support from key industry advocates and influential figures in political circles.

Although smaller than other think tanks, CEI holds sway in areas advocating economic freedom and individual liberties. Established in 1984, the organization promotes free-market principles and limited government intervention.

The CEI said Tuesday it has been instrumental in advising Emmer to fortify the bill against loopholes that could allow the Federal Reserve a backdoor to issue a CBDC.

The Federal Reserve, in its last update from April 2023, maintained it was still researching the potential risks and benefits of CBDCs. According to the Fed, a key focus is whether and how a CBDC could improve the US payments system.

Emmer’s bill symbolizes broader public and policy skepticism surrounding CBDCs, which many view could establish a surveillance state and limit innovation.

A Cato Institute poll, dated May 31, shows that less than 16% of Americans support a government-issued digital currency. 

Public resistance intensifies when people weigh the risks of CBDCs used for government monitoring or dictating how individuals manage their finances, the think tank said.

The CEI also voiced support for additional legislative measures, such as the Digital Dollar Prevention Act proposed by Rep. Alex Mooney, R-WV., and concerns over the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s current approach to crypto.

“[Congress] needs to stop the SEC’s ‘regulation by enforcement’ that deems privately issued cryptocurrencies ‘securities,’ even though they are vastly different from stocks and bonds,” CEI said.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler, due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Sept. 27, said Tuesday his agency was acting aggressively to protect consumers.

Industry leaders have continued to sound the alarm over the SEC’s methods, claiming the agency has disregarded due process, exercised its authority arbitrarily and deviated from its previous interpretations of securities laws.

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