President Joe Biden preserved controversial environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment policies on Monday when he issued his first veto — but he declined to defend ESG openly, claiming instead that he was attacking “MAGA.”
Biden’s veto rejected a bipartisan bill under the Congressional Review Act that to repeal a Department of Labor regulation enshrining ESG policies in the management of retirement funds.
But he would not explain why he believed ESG is good for investors. He merely attacked his opponents.
The president tweeted: “This bill would risk your retirement savings by making it illegal to consider risk factors MAGA House Republicans don’t like.
“Your plan manager should be able to protect your hard-earned savings — whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likes it or not.”
Notably, he did not bother defending ESG rules directly.
I just vetoed my first bill.
This bill would risk your retirement savings by making it illegal to consider risk factors MAGA House Republicans don't like.
Your plan manager should be able to protect your hard-earned savings — whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likes it or not. pic.twitter.com/PxuoJBdEee
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 20, 2023
Rep. Greene (R-GA) is a frequent lightning rod for criticism. But the fact is that some Democrats also backed the repeal.
Likewise, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) praised Biden on Tuesday for his veto — but also failed to defend ESG, casting the issue instead as a defense of “free speech and free markets,” rather than left-wing policies.
The @GOP have become the party that opposes free speech and free markets.@POTUS was right to veto this bill.
Investors should be able to make smart choices to protect your retirement, not be forced to bend to the ways of an extreme, right-wing political agenda. https://t.co/YXrLgusnjm
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 21, 2023
The result of Biden’s veto is that retirees may be forced, through their pension funds, to bankroll “woke” ESG policies with which they disagree. Despite what Newsom claims, the veto hurts free speech and free markets.
Newsom’s failure to defend ESG directly is particularly ironic, as many critics have blamed ESG for the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) — a bank chartered in California, and theoretically under his oversight.
ESG policies were initially imposed upon corporate management by left-wing, activist shareholders. More recently, Wall Street titans have embraced ESG as a way of virtue-signaling. But their value is doubtful — and critics say they cause managers to neglect economic fundamentals and their fiduciary duty to investors.
Either way, it is noteworthy that neither Biden nor Newsom would say directly that they support ESG policies. That is a sign of how politically toxic those policies have become — and the growing political price of “wokeness.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
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