Trek Bicycle president slams Trump on corporate taxes, failed leadership, and 'America First theory'

Daniel McMahon | Business Insider - The president of North America's largest bicycle manufacturer has slammed President Donald Trump over his corporate-tax reform, failed leadership, and misguided "America First theory."


John Burke, the President of Trek Bicycle Corporation: YouTube/Trek Bicycle


John Burke, the head of Waterloo, Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycle Corp., lambasted Trump during an interview with Business Insider on Thursday, saying he missed a huge opportunity to simplify a complicated tax system and has failed to lead the country.


"We're 100 days in and he finally comes out with a tax plan — and it was 250 words? And there was no bad news," Burke said. "Here's this huge opportunity to simplify everything and to have massive change, and you get 250 words."


While Trump's tax plan contains broad outlines rather than firm legislative text, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said the plan would include "the biggest tax cut" in US history, echoing statements made by Trump.


Trek, a family-owned company, was cofounded by Richard Burke, John's father, in a Waterloo barn in 1976. Today it is a global bike business worth over $1 billion, and it employs 2,000 people worldwide. It makes a variety of bikes, including kids' bikes, mountain bikes, and high-end road bikes. It also owns the Trek-Segafredo team that competes in the Tour de France.


Burke, who says he is neither a Republican nor a Democrat but an independent, is the author of "12 Simple Solutions to Save America," published in 2016, which "challenges Americans to resist the status quo and change what elected officials are unwilling or unable to change."


Trek Bicycle Corp. headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Daniel McMahon/Business Insider


"Look, I don't need a tax break — Trek doesn't need a tax break," Burke told Business Insider. "We're going to succeed and fail in the market based on how good our products are and how good our services are. As a member of the community, we have a moral duty to be a good corporate citizen, and one way you're a good corporate citizen is you pay your taxes."


Burke added that, from a competitive standpoint, American corporate taxes should come down — but so should all the deductions. And while he did praise Trump for reducing the number of tax brackets, he criticized him for not getting rid of corporate deductions altogether.


"You have General Electric, a great American company, which made a profit of $12 billion. They filed a 57,000-page tax return and paid zero in taxes.