Vivek Ramaswamy On The Rise Of The Anti-ESG Movement

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Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Strive Asset Management Co-Founder & Executive Chairman Vivek Ramaswamy on CNBC’s “Last Call” (M-F, 7PM-8PM ET) today, Wednesday, March 8th for the premiere of the program.

Vivek Ramaswamy: The Rise Of The Anti-ESG Movement

BRIAN SULLIVAN: Joining us now is the man who gave rise pretty much to the anti-ESG movement. He is also running for President himself by the way, that is Strive Asset Management Co-Founder and Chairman Vivek Ramaswamy Vivek thanks for joining us premiere show. I read your book, but come on existential threat to liberty. Really, that seems a little extreme.

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VIVEK RAMASWAMY: Well, you weren't quoting me there.

SULLIVAN: No but whoever said that come on.

RAMASWAMY: But  I do think there's a valid point to it in a deeper sense. It's not the existence of ESG funds. It is this new practice of merging state power and corporate power to do together what neither could do on its own.

Couldn't get the Green New Deal through Congress. No problem, get it done through the climate pledge instead, can't pass racial equity audits through the government. No problem have Blackrock State Street and Vanguard forced it down the throats of companies like Apple instead, and I think it's just a symptom.

It is a deeper cancer that uses the private sector as the back door to get done what the government could not Constitutionally accomplish.

SULLIVAN: Vivek if Blackrock, Vanguard, Fidelity if they want to do it. And if their clients want to buy it, what's the beef?

RAMASWAMY: Well, that's the crucial last part you snuck in there – if their clients want to buy it. So here's the thing. If you ask most clients, do they know that their money is actually being used to advance these agendas? They will say no.

If you look at that new Biden rule change that in the Department of Labor said that they were going to change the ERISA rules to allow retirement fund managers to promote ESG values, there's a crucial distinction.

There used to be a disclosure requirement that was proposed, they got rid of the disclosure requirement. And you want to know why? If you tell most Americans that their money is going to be used to vote for their policies, they will say absolutely not. So in a certain sense the absence of disclosure –

SULLIVAN: How do we know what most Americans think? I mean, there's definitely pushback. You're online. I'm online all the time. I hear it. I don't know if that's the majority view.


RAMASWAMY: Well, here's my view. Just do it through disclosure transparent consent. That you can – if you want to use my money to advance a social or political agenda, to vote for a racial equity audit, or a scope 3 emissions cap, fine. Then just ask me.

And yet, when you see the Department of Labor rule, finally passing last November, what did they do? They delete the disclosure requirement and they didn't leave it to the imagination, why? They themselves said it would have a chilling effect on the use of ESG factors. So this isn't a mystery.

People know, I mean, the government knows and the Labor Department knows just as well as most everyday Americans that people want to make money with their investment accounts. Not promote these one-sided agendas.

SULLIVAN: We got, we’ve got a panel, we're gonna bring them in. I gotta ask you this first. You are running for president. Listen, you you wrote a book. A lot of people read it. You went to Harvard. You went to Yale, started a business, sold it.

But why are you running for, Cincinnati's own Vivek Ramaswamy Skyline Chili's favorite. Why are you running for president with let's be honest and I mean this with all due respect, it's a long, long shot is it not?

RAMASWAMY: I don't, I don't quite agree with that if you see what you see, what I see on the ground, but here's the deal. We're in the middle of a national identity crisis. Okay, my generation I'm 37 years old.

We're so hungry for a cause, we're hungry for purpose and meaning and identity at a moment when the things that used to fill that void from faith to national identity have disappeared. If you ask most people my age, what does it even mean to be an American? You get a blank stare in response and I think that's a problem.

But I have a vision of what it does mean to be American from reviving meritocracy to free speech and open debate to self-governance in this country over aristocracy. I think people are hungry for that American national identity, and I'm running to deliver it and I expect we will and I'm optimistic about what's ahead, not just for this campaign, but for our country.