The Department of Labor quietly announced a “final rule” just before the holidays that “allows plan fiduciaries to consider climate change and other environmental, social and governance factors when they select retirement investments and exercise shareholder rights, such as proxy voting.”
The press release said that the department “concluded that two rules issued in 2020 during the prior administration unnecessarily restrained plan fiduciaries’ ability to weigh environmental, social and governance factors when choosing investments, even when those factors would benefit plan participants financially.”
In effect, this gives a green light to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing, codifying the left’s pursuits of climate and social justice at the expense of Americans’ retirement plans, undoing added protections put in place by the Trump administration in the process.
“Today’s rule clarifies that retirement plan fiduciaries can take into account the potential financial benefits of investing in companies committed to positive environmental, social and governance actions as they help plan participants make the most of their retirement benefits,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said. “Removing the prior administration’s restrictions on plan fiduciaries will help America’s workers and their families as they save for a secure retirement.”
President Biden issued an executive order in May 2021 that ordered the federal government “to identify and assess policies to protect the life savings and pensions of America’s workers and families from the threats of climate-related financial risk,” the department said.
Lisa M. Gomez, the assistant secretary for Employee Benefits Security, a Labor Department agency, touted the new rule’s ability to factor in any number of left-wing causes.
“The rule announced today will make workers’ retirement savings and pensions more resilient by removing needless barriers, and ending the chilling effect created by the prior administration on considering environmental, social and governance factors in investments,” Gomez said. “Climate change and other environmental, social and governance factors can be useful for plan investors as they make decisions about how to best grow and protect the retirement savings of America’s workers.”
Carol Roth, financial expert and author of “The War on Small Business,” spoke to Glenn Beck on his radio program saying the “egregious” new ruling puts your retirement at risk, and that it undermines the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act that ensured managers of retirement plans must act “solely in the interest” of employees and beneficiaries.
“This [ERISA] was one of those really good laws … they’re few and far between, but this was a really good thing for you to have protection so when somebody is managing your retirement funds in a retirement plan, they have to select, monitor, and cast shareholder votes based on your best financial interest,” Roth said.
“And, by the way, the Trump administration had put extra rules in place specifically around ESG, and so this was done to undo that, then take it a step further. So now they’re saying they can favor ESGs or something called ETIs, economically targeted investments. So you can only imagine what that would look like,” she continued. “…So basically, they’re now giving financial cover — and this again is now a Department of Labor rule which needs to be challenged in the courts — saying that we no longer have to have your best interests, if we’re managing your funds, at heart. We can do whatever we want. This codifies business-social credits. Codifies it.”
Beck interpreted this as the building of structure “where they take things from you and do things they want to do, not necessarily what you want to do or what are in your best interests.”
Roth reminded him just how massive the implications are, noting that 141 million workers are impacted here as well as 7.6 trillion dollars in assets.
“This isn’t just a small thing, this is the bulk of the wealth of the American people,” she said.
“Look at what’s going to happen,” Beck said. “People are going to lose their retirement, or pieces of it, and then they will look to the government to fund their retirement even more. This is insanity! It is a rat trap!”
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