- Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Democratic presidential hopeful, has expressed concerns about central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), saying they could lead to “financial slavery” and allow the government to seize Bitcoin. He is not alone in his opposition to CBDCs, with many Republican lawmakers also opposing them.
- Kennedy’s comments followed the Federal Reserve’s announcement that it will launch its FedNow instant payment system in July, which Kennedy confused with a CBDC. While FedNow is not a CBDC, it has still raised concerns about financial surveillance.
- CBDCs have been a divisive issue in the United States, with some lawmakers warning that they could be used to control citizens’ behavior and restrict financial privacy, while others see them as a way to modernize the financial system and increase financial inclusion.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, has expressed concerns over the dangers of central bank digital currency (CBDC). Kennedy, an environmental lawyer who gained notoriety as an anti-vaccination activist, filed documents to run as a Democratic presidential candidate in the 2024 U.S. election on April 5.
In a tweet on the same day, Kennedy said that CBDCs could lead to “financial slavery and political tyranny,” and expressed fears that the government would seize the public’s Bitcoin. While many opponents of CBDCs have raised concerns about the potential loss of privacy and government control over financial affairs, Kennedy’s statements stood out for their bluntness.
Kennedy’s warnings come as the U.S. Federal Reserve prepares to launch its FedNow instant payment system in July. While this is not a CBDC, the Federal Reserve has been exploring the possibility of issuing its own CBDC in the future. A CBDC is a digital currency that is issued and managed by a government or a central bank, and is pegged to a sovereign currency like the U.S. dollar.
In his tweet, Kennedy argued that CBDCs are “the first step in banning and seizing bitcoin as the Treasury did with gold 90 years ago today in 1933.” He also claimed that CBDCs tied to digital ID and social credit scores would give the government the power to “freeze your assets or limit your spending to approved vendors if you fail to comply with arbitrary diktats, i.e. vaccine mandates.”
Kennedy is far from alone in his opposition to CBDCs. Many Republicans have also voiced concerns about the potential loss of financial privacy and the government’s ability to surveil citizens’ financial affairs. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is expected to run for president in the 2024 election, has stated that CBDCs are “all about surveilling Americans and controlling behavior.”
Republican Representative Tom Emmer has introduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act into Congress, while Senator Ted Cruz has introduced a bill to block the development of a retail CBDC. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren is running for reelection on a strong anti-cryptocurrency platform, but has expressed her support for CBDC.
While CBDCs have the potential to make financial transactions faster and more efficient, they have also been criticized for their potential negative effects on financial privacy and government control over financial affairs. Critics argue that CBDCs would give governments unprecedented power to track citizens’ financial activities, and could lead to a loss of privacy and civil liberties.
Kennedy’s warnings about the potential dangers of CBDCs come at a time when governments around the world are exploring the possibility of issuing their own digital currencies. China has already launched a digital version of its currency, the yuan, and many other countries are expected to follow suit in the coming years.
The rise of digital currencies has also raised concerns about the potential loss of privacy and civil liberties. While CBDCs have the potential to make financial transactions faster and more efficient, they could also lead to a loss of privacy and government control over financial affairs.
Kennedy’s warnings about the potential dangers of CBDCs highlight the need for careful consideration of the potential benefits and drawbacks of these digital currencies. As governments around the world continue to explore the possibility of issuing their own CBDCs, it is important to consider the potential consequences of these digital currencies for financial privacy, civil liberties, and government control over financial affairs.