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.

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Bill
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Bill

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.

Gabby Johnson
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Gabby Johnson

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.

LK
Guest
LK

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… Read more »

Bill
Guest
Bill

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?

LK
Guest
LK

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.

Observant
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Observant

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.

Bill
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Bill

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

LK
Guest
LK

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.… Read more »

LK
Guest
LK

Great book btw. If you love history, this one’s a must. Also, if you’re an airplane aficionado, you’ll love it. Those guys were incredible.

https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Blue-B-24s-Germany-1944-45/dp/0743223098

Bill
Guest
Bill

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.

LK
Guest
LK

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… Read more »

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