March 06, 2023

Maximizing Americans' investments, not promoting ESG agenda should be Biden's focus

For most Americans, a secure retirement is the ultimate goal. It is something we work towards, diligently save and plan for in the hopes that when that day comes, we can live healthy, comfortable lives.
That’s why the recent actions by the Biden administration to prioritize their liberal policy agenda over protecting and growing the retirement accounts of 150 million Americans are especially infuriating.
In 1974, Congress passed the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that set minimum standards for the managers of private retirement and healthcare investment accounts.
ERISA created protections for these accounts to ensure they were managed to maximize profits and prevent retirees from being scammed or tricked by bad actors or fraudulent mangers.
But last fall, the Administration instituted a new rule that encourages retirement plan fiduciaries to consider environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors when deciding which investments to make and how to best manage hard-working Americans’ retirement accounts.
Before this, ERISA required these account managers to make decisions solely based on what would yield the most profit for their clients, preparing them for the life they desire when they retire.
This is an important distinction and a dangerous change in precedent. For the first time, managers of retirement accounts are potentially thwarting returns on retirement investments without the expressed consent of the retiree. This is a gross overreach on the part of the federal government.
That’s why I joined my Republican colleagues as the only Democrat to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act that would repeal this dangerous new rule.
The resolution had broad support from organizations like the West Virginia Coal Association, many members of the West Virginia House of Delegates and even our West Virginia state treasurer.
This week, the Senate passed this measure with a bipartisan vote of 50-46. The House of Representatives also passed the measure with a bipartisan vote of 216-204. Despite this clear message from Congress, President Biden is expected to veto the measure.
West Virginians are under increasing stress as we continue to recover from a once-in-a-generation pandemic, pay the bills amid record inflation and monitor the largest land war in Europe since World War II.
When West Virginians deposit their hard-earned savings into their retirement accounts, they should not also have to worry about whether their money managers are investing in liberal ESG funds that may not only carry higher fees than non-ESG funds, but also may not produce the strongest returns.
Now more than ever, the Administration should be prioritizing protecting the savings of West Virginian and American families by ensuring they are getting the best returns possible for their retirement investments.
I have said time and time again — we cannot eliminate our way to a cleaner energy future. We have seen firsthand what Russia has done to our European allies that went all-in on their clean, green dreams before they could replace the baseload energy they need from coal, oil and natural gas to run their economies.
We have also seen firsthand the Biden Administration’s unrelenting efforts to follow in Europe’s faulty footsteps. That’s why I forced this Administration to restart domestic production and exploration of fossil fuels right here at home in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Instead of playing political games with Americans’ retirement accounts, the Administration should just follow the law and correctly implement the energy security provisions within the Inflation Reduction Act.
If followed, that law will significantly shore up American energy security using all of our fossil fuel resources that are cleaner than anywhere else in the world while we continue to develop energy technologies for the future.
We will also do this by increasing our domestic energy production, onshoring our manufacturing and supply chains and creating good paying energy jobs in communities that need them most.

I will continue to press the Administration to put the economic, energy and national security needs of our country above their radical, progressive agenda.

By:  Senator Joe Manchin