Nina Easton‘s latest Fortune column examines the results of a recent survey of 10,000 Harvard Business School alumni conducted in connection with professor Michael Porter’s U.S. Competitiveness Project.

Their words aren’t necessarily what President Obama wants to hear, nor what Republican leaders emphasize, and their views certainly aren’t what business lobbyists peddle in closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill. But it’s the start of an agenda that is remarkably doable — and in less heated political times would be likely to draw bipartisan support. …

… Tax and regulatory burdens topped the alumni’s list of complaints — but not for the reasons we often hear cited. “They were more concerned about complexity and uncertainty, rather than the actual level of regulation or taxes,” says Porter.

Individual industries, of course, have thrived on building complexity into the tax code with self-interested loopholes and subsidies. Likewise, President Obama’s plan to improve U.S. competitiveness rests on further mucking up the tax system by “rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.”

Porter’s response? “Let’s not add another layer of complexity to the tax code,” he says. “It’s not [tax] incentives or spending that drives behavior, it’s about creating a fertile environment here that justifies higher U.S. wages.”