WASHINGTON — A popular conservative talking point in the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank failure is that the financial institution went down because it was too “woke.”
Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and House Oversight Chair James Comer of Kentucky claimed that the bank was too focused on policies around diversity and its consideration of environmental and social factors in investments — known as ESG.
But on Thursday, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., had a twist on this talking point, saying Silicon Valley Bank was actually “too woke to fail.”
The Missouri Republican told NBC News that the bank received the federal government’s help because it invested in climate change solutions backed by powerful people.
"'Too woke to fail' says that they're really politically connected and pursuing an agenda, which I’m sure that they put forward to people here, who see that — 'This is important, we've invested all this stuff, you can't let this go under!' My view is they should be treated like everybody else," Hawley said.
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The claims linking Silicon Valley Bank’s situation to “wokeness,” which lack factual basis, channel a common refrain that has struck a chord with the Republican grassroots in blaming “woke” attitudes for a vast array of national problems.
Hawley tweeted Monday that SVB failed in part because it was “funding woke garbage” like clean energy pursuits.
But Hawley backed away from that Thursday when asked what his evidence was for saying that “woke” or climate-based investments were a cause of SVB’s financial failures.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” he said. “It seems like they made bad decisions.”
Federal regulators backstopped Silicon Valley Bank depositors through the FDIC’s existing deposit insurance fund, with President Joe Biden and his allies arguing that the pot of money is covered by fees on banks — and not a taxpayer bailout.
Hawley, among others, said it's a bailout.
“I’m sure they did this deliberately, I’m sure they sold us to retailers: ‘We’re pursuing an important agenda on climate change,' and whatever, and I just think — that doesn’t mean they deserve a bailout,” he said. “You can’t tell me that if a bank, a community bank in Missouri had failed, that regulators would have rushed to bail them out.”