White House hopeful RFK Jr. says instant payments may lead to ‘financial slavery’

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed documents with the United States Federal Election Commission on April 5 to run as a Democratic presidential candidate in 2024, according to multiple news reports. He is expected to officially announce his candidacy on April 19 in Boston, Massachusetts. As reports of his candidacy spread, Kennedy tweeted his position on central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Kennedy, the nephew of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and son of former U.S. attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, is an environmental lawyer who gained notoriety as an anti-vaccination activist. By running for the Oval Office, he would challenge current President Joe Biden, also a Democrat.

Also on April 5, Kennedy posted a tweet on the perceived dangers of CBDC. While CBDC is becoming an increasingly political issue in the United States, Kennedy’s statement stood out for its bluntness. There was also some factual confusion.

“The Fed just announced it will introduce its ‘FedNow’ Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) in July,” Kennedy began. While the Federal Reserve said it will launch the FedNow instant payment system in July, it will not be a CBDC and is often seen as a competitor to a potential future government-backed CBDC.

The Federal Reserve has repeatedly stated that it would issue a CBDC only with a Congressional mandate.

In line with many opponents of CBDC, Kennedy paints a worst-case scenario of a “CBDC tied to digital ID and social credit score,” disregarding the numerous design options for a privacy-protecting CBDC. The introduction of FedNow “is the first step in banning and seizing bitcoin as the Treasury did with gold 90 years ago today in 1933,” he concluded.

Related: CBDCs ‘threaten Americans’ core freedoms’ — Cato Institute

Kennedy is far from alone in his opposition to CBDC. Many CBDC opponents are on the right, however. The Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, whom many expect to enter the 2024 presidential race, stated in a speech that “the central bank digital currency is all about is surveilling Americans and controlling behavior of Americans.” Republican Rep. Tom Emmer introduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act into Congress in February. Senator Ted Cruz has also introduced a bill to block the development of a retail CBDC.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is running for reelection on a strong anti-cryptocurrency platform. She is possibly the most vocal opponent of cryptocurrency in U.S. Congress but has expressed her support for CBDC. In light of his intention to announce his candidacy in Boston and his family’s strong ties to the state, Kennedy also seems likely to run as a candidate from Massachusetts.

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