WASHINGTON — A popular conservative talking point in the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank bankruptcy is that the financial institution failed because it was too “woke.”
Republicans like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and House Oversight Chairman James Comer of Kentucky have claimed the bank is too focused on diversity policies and its consideration of environmental and social factors in investments. – known as ESG.
But on Thursday, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., had a spin on that talking point, saying Silicon Valley Bank was actually “too awake to fail.”
The Missouri Republican told NBC News that the bank received help from the federal government because it invested in climate change solutions backed by powerful people.
“‘Too awake to fail’ says they’re really politically connected and pursuing an agenda, which I’m sure they’ve laid out for people here, who see that – ‘It’s important, we’ve invested all of this, you can’t let this sink in!’ My view is that they should be treated like everyone else,” Hawley said.
The claims linking the Silicon Valley Bank situation to the “awakening” that lack a factual basis, channel a common refrain that has touched the Republican base by blaming “woke” attitudes for a wide range of national issues.
Hawley tweeted on Monday that SVB failed in part because it was “funding woke garbage” like clean energy businesses.
But Hawley backtracked on Thursday when asked what his evidence was for saying ‘woke’ or climate-based investments were a cause of SVB’s financial failures.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” he said. “It looks like they made some bad decisions.”
Federal regulators have backed 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 bank fees – and not by a taxpayer bailout.
Hawley, among others, said it was a bailout.
“I’m sure they did it deliberately, I’m sure they sold us to retailers, ‘We’re pursuing a significant climate change agenda’, and whatever, and I just think – it doesn’t mean not that they deserve a bailout,” he said. “You can’t tell me that if a bank, a community bank in Missouri had failed, regulators would have rushed to bail them out.”