The good news about Election 2016 is that voters have sent an unambiguous message to Washington. Business as usual isn’t working. Dysfunctional politics have produced a voter insurgency that cannot be ignored.
The bad news is that most of the solutions offered by the leading candidates are half-baked, ill-conceived, and in many cases downright dangerous. Building walls, banning immigrants, blocking trade agreements, and jailing CEOs isn’t the medicine the nation needs.
So what should a national growth agenda look like? In our current magazine issue, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Joe Lieberman—both recovering presidential aspirants themselves—provide some answers. The former Utah governor and former Connecticut senator chair an organization called No Labels that has drawn up a policy playbook of 60 proposals for the next President’s consideration. Fortune doesn’t necessarily endorse every one of them, but we think that, as a package, they deserve your serious attention.
Key to the No Labels effort is an assumption that the nation’s problems are eminently solvable. The U.S. remains the shining jewel of global business. Its economy is relatively strong, its companies are the most innovative in the world, and its future is comparatively bright. Why else do the best and the brightest still come here in such numbers? What’s needed is some modest attention to a few festering sores that have gone unattended. The No Labels plan addresses four of them: slow growth in jobs and living standards, a tightening financial squeeze on government retirement programs, a yawning federal budget deficit, and a nonexistent national energy policy.
The proposals will leave many Washington lobbyists howling. The No Labels tax reform plan, for instance, would eliminate the lower rate for capital gains and thus provoke cries of pain from well-heeled investors. The proposal to allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices will be attacked by Big Pharma as tantamount to price controls. The proposals to cut income tax rates and sunset all regulations will anger those who think throttling business and redistributing income is the answer to inequality. In short, No Labels violates the political dogma of both the left and the right.
But here’s the key: Each of these 60 proposals has been poll-tested and has the support of a majority of Americans. The agenda may gore many oxen, but it is designed to be good for the herd. Whoever ends up in power after the November election should study these proposals closely. The partisan strategy for government has clearly failed. This provides the map to a new, bipartisan road forward.
Also in this issue, Shawn Tully and Roger Parloff take a serious look at Donald Trump’s business career, searching for clues about how he would run the nation should he prevail. Erika Fry dives deep into how Nestlé, a leading proponent of ethical business, became embroiled in a food scandal in India, and the costly lessons it learned as a result (publishing on the site soon). And Clifton Leaf explores Silicon Valley bad boy Sean Parker’s $250 million plan to cure cancer (also publishing on the site soon).
A version of this article appears in the May 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “A Modest Proposal to Make Keep America Great Again.”