Congressman Zinke Defends Billionaire Donald Trump Not Paying Taxes

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Just when I think that Congressman Ryan Zinke couldn’t become more craven and wrong-headed in his defense of Donald Trump, he manages to surprise me. He’s defended his frankly insane foreign policy proposals, his incoherent economic policy, his racist attacks against Mexican people, and even his crude, inappropriate remarks about all kinds of Americans, from Secretary Clinton on down. No matter what Donald says, Ryan agrees, because he’s hitched his self-aggrandizing wagon to a trollish little star, no matter where it leads him.

But I couldn’t imagine that Congressman Zinke would go so far as to defend the idea that a self-described billionaire would be “smart” not to pay federal taxes for decades. On CNN today, he told Jake Tapper “”It’s legal. It’s appropriate…Frankly, I think it’s smart business.”

Zinke went on to say that we “need to focus on dealing with the problems overseas, deal with an economy here, so we can afford to keep a strong military, and keep our promises here.”

It’s pretty challenging to pay for the military Zinke loves and the social programs he wants to slash when people like Donald Trump don’t pay their taxes, especially when he’s not paying them because he was such a spectacularly failed businessman. There’s no justification for a tax system that permits someone who brags about his enormous personal wealth, surrounds himself with childish luxuries, and contends he’s the most brilliant businessman in the world to not pay his taxes. And now we have Congressman Zinke defending this failed businessman who took taxpayer funded money earmarked for 9/11 relief and who claims to have a net worth of over $4 billion dollars not funding our roads, our schools, our soldiers, our safety net.

Back in 2012, Mitt Romney was excoriated by people, including Donald Trump, both for not paying his taxes and for failing to release his returns. Romney paid a 13.9% tax rate in the last year of reporting before the election, and it seems Donald Trump has paid nothing since the first Clinton administration. There are a lot of working class voters who are angry at a system that seems to have let them down, but how can the answer be a man who cares so little for his country that he’s let himself acquire billions without paying anything back for 20 years?

I’m a middle class high school teacher. Last year, I paid $10,013 in federal income tax. I’m not a wealthy person, but believe that I owe my fair share to the country that provides for my defense, the occasional highway, and all the other services I depend on. The general welfare of the nation, the foundation of the Constitution, depends on the idea that all of us contribute for the national good. For Congressman Zinke to publicly suggest that a billionaire is “smart” for not paying his fair share demonstrates priorities that are entirely out of the norm and values that continue to damage this nation.

There’s nothing smart about Donald Trump living like a leech off the largesse of the hardworking people of this country. And there’s nothing patriotic about defending him. It shouldn’t be surprising that Congressman Zinke has been found in the company of a local snake oil salesman and Ponzi schemer in the last week. He seems drawn to them, whether they’re martial arts instructors from Big Fork or spectacularly huge failures as real estate developers from New York.

You’ve got to ask yourself why.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

13 Comments

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  • Don, once again a very well composed article. But, Trump’s taxes were legal. The release of the proposed one page from his taxes was an illegal release of personal data. The NYT’s reporter and alleged news source will have to deal with that. Also, the Realclear Politics 4 Way Race Polls RCP Average peaked out up .7 Friday and today is up .1 now for Clinton since the debate. Bottom line no one cares. Proposed policies matter.

    • How could you possibly know if Trump’s tax evasion has been legal? Unlike every presidential candidate in generations, he’s refused to release his taxes.

      There’s no way a person could argue that Donald Trump has made a policy case for his election. Name one actual policy he’s articulated that could happen. I don’t think there’s one.

      • According to the New York Magazine, among other sources, it is alleged that Marla Maples released the tax return. Therefore, making it legal. Not releasing your returns to the public, when running for President, should be reason for disqualification.

  • It’s not news that Trump pays nothing to support our nation.
    But the fact he lost close to a billion bucks in a year when everyone was making money hand over fist is noteworthy.

  • But…..but… Slinky was a Seal, a Barking Seal! When you look at Slinky’s bio, it becomes obvious. The dude has never worked a real day, a real job, real anything in his entire pathetic existence! College on a football scholarship. Military career. Then, on to the hated gummint! The dude’s lips are firmly planted on Unca Sugartit! YOU are the sucker if you vote for this suckee!

    Bill, name just one, only one, simply ONE thing that Slinky has done in his entire pathetic existence that he did on his own! Hell, even GG giant fart supposedly created a few jobs. But what did Slinky do? Did you see the movie Forest Gump? Well, that’s Slinky writ large! Takin’ orders and suckin’ up is what the military is all about! And that’s what Slinky does best! Unfortunately, now Slinky is suckin’ up to a moronic fascist! He now heads up Seal Team IQ 6! And he’s perfect!

    • awwww maybe…..put himself in harms way (been shot at)….taken a life…..for your freedoms and your Constitution. And you? Have you ever wore a uniform? Catholic grade school doesn’t count?

      • Bill, you are soooo naïve. I’m 65. EVERY one of my generation went to Nam, including me. But what we DIDN’T do is brag about doin’ it like Slinky does. He’s an embarrassment to all REAL vets out here who quietly went on about our lives. For you see, Bill, the ONLY ones who feel that the military was the defining point in their lives are losers………like Slinky.

        • Right on LK. He even threw his hat in the ring for Vice Presidential nomination. As far as being held in esteem by his team, I don’t think so. Heard that firsthand.
          Denise Juneau is a woman of character. Slinky left his heart in CA.

        • And Senator Ted Stevens, Senator John Glenn, Senator Bob Kerrey, Senator Daniel Inouye, Senator John McCain and George H. W. Bush ?

  • I KNEW George McGovern, and Slinky is no George McGovern! Nor is he any of the WW II vets that I knew growing up, one of which was the recently deceased Ben Steele. I used to watch Ben walk home after classes at EMC. I could tell that there was something very different about the man, but I didn’t know what it was……..until later. I don’t think I ever heard anyone talk about his war experiences when I attended Eastern back in the early seventies. I didn’t find out until later when I’d left college. Then, it all made sense. To me, he was just another art teacher prof.

    Same way with McGovern. The whole time he was running for president, I had no idea he was a true war hero. It wasn’t until years later that I came across that book by Stephen Ambrose which chronicled the war exploits of B-24 pilots that I found out.

    And it was the same with ALL the WW II vets I knew growing up. They did their duty, as they all did, and moved on. They simply didn’t whine about it endlessly like Slinky. Many went on to become great actors, but we never knew they were war heroes.

    So, Slinky the Barking Seal is a complete puke in my book. He served (as a lifer) and continues to bark about it like some fat old drunkin’ softball player in a bar. You know the guys. Fat, stupid losers who can’t let go of their glory days. And that’s just real sad……..just like this Slinky character!
    Even fat has-been softball players take off the ol’ uniform once in awhile. Why can’t Slinky? Is he hoping they make a movie outta his sorry hide? Maybe something like Seal Team Six, the Never Ending Story!

    This is Montana, Bill. LOTS of vets out there other than the one that barks the loudest!

    • LK, Clearly based on your slanderous name calling and opinionated character impeachment of Mr Zinke you obviously promote Dennis Juneau and her policies as being best for Montana and the country. It’s a free country and you are allowed to state your opinion.

      • Absolutely do I support Denise Juneau. And no, it is NOT slanderous to call Slinky what he is. For you see, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, and constantly barking about your military service is the last refuge of a puke! Of which I consider Slinky.

        And I speak for all the guys I knew who if they were here would say the same about Slinky. The guy is a puke. He besmirches the sacrifices and duty of all who came before him. And he makes use of their courage for political gain. THAT is the purest definition of a puke. And you’re right. I can’t stand the weasel! And guess what? Slinky, in his heart of hearts, knows I’m right. He should really just S….T….F……U! For he is still here, and a whole lot of other guys who gave more than he did aren’t. He’s a puke.

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