WASHINGTON – In the aftermath of the federal government shutdown, business leaders see a new opening to advance their agenda for a more sustainable economic future in the United States. Business figures who are part of the American Sustainable Business Council are gathering in D.C. this week to push for more investments in education, transportation and renewable energy.
According to Council co-chair Jeffrey Hollender, the founder of the firm Hollender Sustainable Brands, the pain of the shutdown opened an opportunity.
“I think the country and the politicians have been somewhat traumatized by the dangers of not working together and inaction,” he said. “I think this is the perfect moment to change course, and to push ourselves to work together to do what’s good for our country.”
Hollender said it’s vital for Congress to make decisions that will help revive the economy and make the U.S. more competitive globally on a long-term basis.
“We today as a nation, and our government, make investments in things that are not in our long-term interest,” he warned. “So, we invest far too much in fossil fuels like coal and oil, and don’t support renewable energy. Renewable energy is our future.”
ASBC members will use their meetings this week with members of Congress and administration leaders to advocate for an end to fossil-fuel subsidies and to subsidies for agricultural commodities.
The Council is also supporting President Obama’s call for a higher minimum wage, saying it will have a ripple effect on the economy.
“I mean, we live in a country where if you earn the minimum wage, you’re guaranteed to spend the rest of your life in poverty,” Hollender declared. “That doesn’t make sense.”
The ASBC represents more than 165,000 U.S. businesses. The group says the nation’s continuing high unemployment, and under-employment rates are proof that such government austerity measures as the across-the-board federal budget cuts known as the sequester aren’t working.