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Trek president John Burke writes a political book

The brother of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke says he isn't interested in running for office.

Trek Bicycle president John Burke said he doesn't plan to follow his sister's lead and run for political office, though his new book might make you think otherwise.

Burke, 54, a self-described independent, has drawn up a political playbook offering "12 Simple Solutions to Save America" with a mix of both liberal and conservative policy prescriptions.

"I’m just somebody who takes a look at the political situation and I see all the problems that we have and I’ve always had thoughts about it," Burke said in an interview. "Instead of sitting on the sidelines, I figured I would write my thoughts down."

The 148-page result reads more like an issues-oriented policy manual from a group such as No Labels or the Bipartisan Policy Center than the manifesto of someone seeking to run for political office, said UW-Madison political science professor Barry Burden.

"The timing of the book's release suggests he wants the ideas in the book to be part of the broader conversation this election year," Burden said.

Burke, a Madison resident, said he spent the last five years writing the book out of a concern that politics has become less about the issues and too much about personalities and attack ads. He said that manifested in his sister Mary's unsuccessful run for governor in 2014 and is more problematic than ever in the current presidential campaign.

Burke offers what he considers simple solutions to complex problems such as the $19 trillion federal debt, global warming, social security insolvency and crumbling roads and bridges. But in an interview he acknowledged he doesn't know how to solve perhaps the more complicated problem of uniting the public behind a platform that doesn't fit neatly into either major political party.

On one hand he calls for cutting income and corporate taxes, shredding the tax code down to 10 pages and eliminating public sector unions. He then pivots to raising the gas tax by $1, taxing carbon emissions, raising the minimum wage to $10, banning corporate and out-of-state campaign contributions and slashing military spending by 33 percent.

In addressing the country's legal system, he divulges that a patent infringement lawsuit that Trek settled in 2004 cost the company $3 million in legal fees. His solution is to adopt England's system, in which plaintiffs who lose a lawsuit must pay a defendant's legal costs.

Health care? Require everyone to take a health risk assessment, while expanding basic Medicare coverage to all Americans.

Gun violence? Rewrite the 2nd Amendment, ban assault rifles and license all gun owners. 

He doesn't address immigration, admitting he doesn't have any simple solutions.

Burke won't say who he'll vote for in the November election, but he encourages everyone to vote, read up on the issues and contact their elected officials.

"The mess that we’re in today provides an incredible opportunity for this generation of Americans," Burke said. "Small groups of people can change the world."

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Matthew DeFour covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.