The Biden Administration Aims to Dictate Retirement Investments

By: Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

If you’re someone who thinks the progressive movement in our nation is looking to push its agenda in every way, look no further than environmental, social, and governance (known as “ESG”) investing. ESG demands that a company or an investment shouldn’t be scored on its financial returns or viability but instead on how green or progressive it is according to an ever-changing and loosely defined litmus test of ESG.

Basically, left-wing activists can make ESG mean whatever they want to get a company to agree with their radical environmental philosophy, liberal social issues, or their demand to put their left-wing activists on their board—or they’re discriminatory. If the company won’t capitulate to the left, they get a lower ESG score and public pressure to bend to their will. Unfortunately, most public companies cave to the left.

The Department of Labor recently set an ESG rule that allows retirement plans to use Americans’ retirement savings to advance a green-energy and social-justice political agenda. The Biden administration’s rule tells the federal government to root out threats from climate-related financial risks and use that information to supposedly protect the life savings and pensions of America’s workers and families.

Their political preferences have taken over your retirement funds. Investment companies, including those who choose where to invest Americans’ retirement funds, have been encouraged by the far left to steer client investments toward companies that practice social and/or environmental justice rather than toward the best investments, either now or for retirement. Retirement funds used to be about families preparing for the future. Now apparently they’re about liberal political preferences.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the FDIC are on a parallel track to force “climate-related financial risks” on assessing the safety and soundness of financial institutions, and the OCC is creating a Chief Climate Risk Officer. Financial institutions are scrambling with the uncertainty of complying with Biden’s climate agenda instead of leaning on traditional sound lending practices. The SEC has released a 490-page climate risk disclosure rule that could impact all facets of the economy, including small agriculture operations in Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Like retirement investment companies, utility companies are forced to capitulate to Green New Deal climate-change activists if they have any hope of staying in the energy market because of ESG. If companies aren’t pushing out coal, natural gas, and oil and moving toward renewables, no matter the additional cost to customers, they’re being told their days may be numbered. Gun manufacturers and traditional oil and gas companies have already experienced the loss of capital access simply because of their business type.

Oklahomans and others around our nation show their support or dislike of a company, a product, or a social justice movement with their wallets. That is where capitalism shines because individuals have a choice in where they shop, who they support, and which companies align with their values. Those on the left say people demand that companies implement ESG polices, but what they really mean is the media and activists demand those changes. Other people vote with their wallets and time.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) grades its citizens and businesses with a social credit system that determines whether the CCP thinks they’re a good citizen/company or not based on factors including whether a person attends government-backed events, etc. The punishment for a low social credit is being banned from flights, blocked from student loans, and restricted or throttled internet use.

The Biden administration’s ESG and social justice activists use their bully pulpit to run whole industries out of town. That’s why, last year my colleagues and I worked to stop their onerous rule that encourages fiduciaries to support left-leaning social and environmental justice priorities. I directly questioned Energy Secretary Granholm to confront the administration on their energy policies that raise the price of everything, and I introduced the Energy Regulations Certainty Act to help ensure Biden’s overreaching climate-change focused regulations don’t continue to hinder US energy.

My team and I are watching the social and environmental justice movements within the Biden administration closely to be sure Americans are not the last to know about the left pushing their agenda, rather than protect Americans and their money.