PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts Comment on Biden Veto of Anti-ESG Bill


“President Biden is putting politics and his radical ideology above the interests of working Americans and their families.”

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (March 21, 2023) – President Biden on Monday issued the first veto of his presidency, rejecting a bipartisan bill that overturned a rule from the Department of Labor that would allow managers of retirement plans to consider environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) when making investment decisions.

The following statements from climate, energy, and ESG experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“Joe Biden’s reckless spending and resulting historic inflation are what is ‘risking the retirement savings of individuals across the country.’”

James Taylor
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“President Biden claims that investment managers and employers should have the right to offer woke ESG investment options to employees and retirees, as well as to make the ‘default’ investment option an ESG fund. Biden says the rule change is meant to give people more options, but the truth is, the rule’s only purpose is to line the pockets of businesses that promote radical environmental and social justice causes the White House favors.

“Investment managers have always had a longstanding duty to put the financial interests of their clients above all else. Biden’s rule changes that. Now, plan managers and employers can nudge or even effectively shove workers and retirees into promoting left-wing causes. Once again, President Biden is putting politics and his radical ideology above the interests of working Americans and their families. It’s a shameful act that even some members of his own party have fought against.”

Justin Haskins
Director, Center for Socialism Research
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“From Biden’s response to the bill – which was not even as strong as it should have been in the first place – we can only assume that he is merely trying to protect his friends in the businesses that benefit from ESG investing, and the radicals who have his ear. ‘Environment’ lines the pockets of his friends in ‘green’ industry and punishes domestic oil and gas. ‘Social’ punishes individuals for their non-approved opinions, and ‘Governance,’ of course, steers businesses towards making politically-motivated (slanted decidedly left) decisions over pecuniary ones. These standards force companies to fall in line with extreme and often costly policies. In the end, because ESG portfolios are risky and tend to perform poorly, it will be the retirees who suffer most.”

Linnea Lueken
Research Fellow
Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“Biden vetoed this bipartisan bill not because it lacked merit or is not justified, but because it undermines his attempt to take over the economy under the guise of fighting climate change.

“Company owners and individual investors should decide for themselves what political goals they support and how they should weigh that when conducting business or making investing decisions. They are the best authorities on what their financial goals are and what risks concern them. Many companies and Americans don’t view climate change as the most important or even a significant threat to their financial goals and business prospects. That is, and should be, their right.

“The federal government shouldn’t have the right to override this or make elitist fund managers and the heads of big banks the de-facto deciders of what risk companies and people should take seriously.

“Biden’s veto upholds the Department of Labor’s (DOL) attempt to force companies and investors to embrace and support liberal social and political goals. For the climate-obsessed, woke DOL, profit and return on investment are to be displaced by a variety of subjective, and likely irrelevant, social goals. Research shows funds managed to take into account political and social goals as opposed to purely pursue profit, return less to their investors. In short, woke investing does poorly in the marketplace.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.
Director, Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate & Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
[email protected]

“All this simple, one-sentence, bipartisan bill (hard to imagine, isn’t it?) did was disallow fiduciaries from considering non-pecuniary factors in making investments or, to put it another way, required fiduciaries to act solely in the financial interests of investors. Alas, President Biden thinks fiduciaries should instead advance a political agenda with your retirement funds and on the back of your financial security.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1984 and headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.