Cynthia Lummis was the U.S. Representative for Wyoming from 2009 to 2017, and is now running for U.S. Senate. A budget hawk and founding member of the Freedom Caucus, she first bought bitcoin in 2013 after a tip from her son-in-law. She’s been an advocate ever since.
A rancher with sandy blonde hair and a warm chuckle, Lummis spoke over the phone while she was looking out her window at hundreds of heads of steer. Birds were chirping in the background. We discussed what is a good store-of-value, how she thinks about her digital assets and running a senate campaign in the midst of a pandemic. “Each of those cattle,” she said, pointing outside, “they’ve decreased by over $400 a piece because of coronavirus. We need stores of value that are decoupled from the economy.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
BP: Wyoming is leading the country in integrating blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies into its banking and regulatory frameworks. What interested you in these technologies to begin with?
CL: I served eight years as Wyoming state treasurer and so I got to invest Wyoming’s Permanent Mineral Trust Fund. It’s essentially a sovereign wealth fund. I was always trying to do was find something that was a good store-of-value. Largely through my son in law Will Cole and his friends I learned about bitcoin as a store-of-value. I bought my first bitcoin in 2013.
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BP: Wow, so a pretty good time to do so.
CL: Oh my god, yes, I think it was about $320 for a bitcoin that time. I’ve watched it mature as a store-of-value. I’ve watched the fundamentals of Bitcoin play out as something that has scarcity built into it, with only 21 million bitcoin being issued. That scarcity, which under economic theory should store value, has done so. The more I watched it since originally buying, the more I’ve come to believe that those overarching economic principles that underlie Bitcoin are playing out the way that one would hope and expect they would. As a person who’s always looking for a store-of-value, I’m impressed with that.
I’m a budget, debt, and deficit hawk. I’ve watched us print money and avoid the scarcity principle by printing more and more money and watching the value of the dollar decline as a result of that. Alternatives to fiat currency are ready for primetime. This is the 21st century. Fiat currency may be on the decline, and I believe that cryptocurrencies may be on the uptick. We were seeing that dynamic play out more quickly because of coronavirus.
BP: As China moves ahead with a digital yuan, should the U.S. be pursuing a digital dollar so we aren’t falling behind?
CL: I don’t know that a government-issued currency is going to be necessary. As long as a dollar-based digital…