Talking ‘Sustainable Economy’ At White House, These Business Leaders Embrace Federal Regulation

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was among the high-level Obama administration officials who engaged business leaders at the White House Tuesday.

From listening to Republicans, and even some wealthy corporate executives themselves, it might be easy to believe that the world of business and free enterprise uniformly opposes President Obama and his policies.

And yet, a number of business leaders spent the day Tuesday at the White House, engaging top Obama administration officials in a day-long Business Summit for a Sustainable Economy.

The event brought together 29 administration officials including White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, with 125 business owners and business organization leaders, representing the 150,000 businesses within the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC). The agenda included interactive sessions and panels made up of both administration officials and ASBC members.

The ASBC describes itself as an advocacy group which “seeks to influence the creation of public policy that acknowledges the large and growing universe of sustainable and socially responsible businesses and social enterprises.”

“Our country and our business community are at an historic point, which requires a significant shift from the old economy. We have the business experience to develop  the policies necessary to transform our whole economy to one that is sustainable – socially, environmentally and economically,” says David Levine, co-founder and CEO of ASBC. “We in the business community are committed to making this vision a reality, for creating jobs and putting the economy and our country on the right track.”

In its statement describing Tuesday’s summit, the ASBC says that its representatives  presented the administration with a letter outlining the association’s principles for a new economy, which include quality job creation, shared prosperity and environmental stewardship. The letter and ASBC’s priority policies and actions were also shared  with  members and staff of the House and the Senate.

“We call on government to empower the engines of our economy—businesses—to be agents of recovery and revitalization. By properly managing markets, accounting for full costs, creating incentives, providing support, and creating a level playing field, government can enable restorative, equitable and sustainable economic models to thrive,” the letter says. “Let us unleash the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation across all sectors to confront and solve the economic, social and environmental problems we face today.”

The tenets outlined in the letter include “living wage jobs” which lead to broad prosperity, as well as environmental stewardship and — anathema to most Republicans and many corporate executives — “Sensible Measures and Regulations” of business.

“Good rules help us tap the power of innovation and are essential to a sound economy,” the letter says. “Regulations limit the power of old economy harmful companies and technologies and by doing so they promote fair competition, innovation and change. They help ensure the stability of the financial system and adequate flow of capital to develop new opportunities. They protect against the externalization of costs that hurt the environment and the public and ultimate damage the economy itself. A truly successful economy must be measured and based on this set of values.”

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