The world’s largest asset manager is defending its push into environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing from a Republican investigation. We’ll also look at the fading popularity of big businesses and Democratic pushback to a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
But first, five issues that will decide the midterm elections.
Wall Street hits back at Republicans in ESG war
Wall Street giants are defending a widespread initiative to invest in companies with environmentally friendly policies, moving away from investment in the fossil fuel industry following attacks on the practice from GOP leaders.
Asset management giant BlackRock wrote a letter to GOP states that are trying to curtail a social movement in the financial sector known as Environmental and Social Corporate Governance (ESG), which seeks to move the U.S. economy away from the fossil fuels that contribute to global temperature rise.
Nineteen attorneys general, from mostly Republican-led states, penned a letter to BlackRock in August inquiring about its investment practices.
The attorneys general said BlackRock is pursuing a political agenda instead of investing solely for the purpose of getting the best return on the company’s investments.
The firm responded that it favors companies that support the transition away from fossil fuels not because it’s pursuing a political agenda, but because these companies are a better long-term investment.
“We believe investors and companies that take a forward-looking position with respect to climate risk and its implications for the energy transition will generate better long-term financial outcomes,” BlackRock said in a letter addressed to the attorneys general.
The Hill’s Tobias Burns has more here.
LEADING THE DAY
Americans’ view of business sector hits 14-year low
Americans’ opinion of businesses plunged this year amid historic inflation, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.
The survey found that 36 percent of Americans have a positive view of businesses, down from 45 percent before the pandemic. That’s the lowest mark since the Great Recession in 2008.
The sour mood seems to stem from soaring prices, with the popularity of the grocery and real estate industries plummeting the most.
Grocery prices rose 13.1 percent over the last 12 months, while housing affordability has fallen to its lowest level since the Great Recession.
Democrats’ opinion of businesses declined more than Republicans after their party attempted to tie historic inflation to corporate greed.
Karl has more here.
More than 70 House Democrats join push against Manchin’s permitting reform
More than 70 House Democrats are signing on to a letter pressing Democratic leaders to not include a side deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on reforming the permit process for energy projects in a bill funding the government.
The permitting reform language was offered to Manchin to win his vote on the massive climate, tax and health care bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act that was signed into law by President Biden last month.
If the group follows through on the letter, Democrats might not have the votes to pass a government funding bill if it includes the language backed by Manchin.
Without a stopgap funding measure, the government will shut down on Oct. 1.
Rachel Frazin has more here.
Biden: Time to scrap ‘Rust Belt’ label
President Biden on Friday celebrated the groundbreaking of a new Intel factory in Ohio to produce semiconductors, tying the major investment directly to a bipartisan bill he signed into law last month to fund the chips.
Biden visited Licking County, near Columbus, to join state and federal officials from both parties to tout the economic benefits of the $20 billion facility. Biden and business leaders on hand for the groundbreaking argued it was a sign of a shifting economy in the region.
“It’s time to bury the label ‘Rust Belt,’” Biden said, instead suggesting the area should be rebranded as the “Silicon Heartland.”
Brett Samuels has more here.
Good to Know
More than 97 percent of California is under at least “severe” drought conditions, raising the specter of difficult agricultural decisions in a state that produces a quarter of U.S. food.
Farming is the main driver of water usage in the state, and the drought, now in its third year, comes alongside increasing pressure on California to bear more of the burden of Colorado River water cutbacks.
Here’s what else we have our eye on:
Raising the minimum wage stands to benefit millions of American workers, supporters say, lifting them out of poverty and increasing workers’ family resources, but it has remained untouched for over a decade.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week!