RUSH: Phil Mickelson apologized for talking about his 62 to 63% tax rate. Word surfaced a couple days ago that Mickelson was thinking of leaving California and selling his house. Prop 30 passed, and that forced him out of a deal to buy the San Diego Padres. (paraphrased) “For crying out loud, I can’t afford to buy anything with 63% of my income being taxed.” He said, “I may have to leave the state, sell my house, and give up the Padres,” and then something happened, and all hell descended on Mickelson.
Mickelson is one of the 1% paying the freight for everybody and yet he’s one under fire. He’s not allowed to complain. I don’t even want to say that he was complaining, but I wouldn’t care if he was. But he’s not allowed. He’s supposed to sit there and take it. He’s supposed to sit there and smile at 63%, and it’s gonna get higher if Democrats have their way. So somebody got to Mickelson and said, “Look, bud, you can’t start complaining.” You know when I first really became aware of how upper-income people talk about taxes? I was never really clued into it.
I’ll never forget this. It was a Sunday morning Brinkley show on ABC, and it was back in the nineties, and it was back when Clinton wanted to eliminate the tax deductibility of CEO salaries above a million dollars. You could deduct as a business expense whatever you paid your CEO up to a million dollars. After that, you’d lose the deductibility. That was the change — and, by the way, athletes and actors were exempted. It was just CEOs. It was pure Democrat Party class envy, class warfare. That’s when stock options hit. That’s when companies said, “Okay, if we can’t pay the people we want to hire to run our company a competative salary, how can we make the job attractive?”
That’s when they created stock options and a number of other workarounds to get around Clinton’s $1 million exemption rule. But I was watching This Week with David Brinkley when this was all happening, and Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel, was the guest. They asked Andy Grove, “What do you think about this rule?” and Andy Grove would go nowhere near it. He didn’t want to talk about it. I think it was George Will. Grove said, “George, I’m not gonna sit here and discuss these social concerns.”
He wasn’t gonna complain at all. He wasn’t gonna complain whatsoever. Not because he disagreed with it, but because he knew that there was no gain in it. Somebody that is a multimillionaire complaining about high taxes is not gonna get any sympathy from anybody except other high-tax people, and there aren’t that many of them. So, anyway, Mickelson just blurts this stuff out in a stream-of-consciousness answer to a question, and there must have been all hell descend on this guy. I don’t know what happened.
I don’t know who got to him. It might be his agent. “Hey, Phil, you’re going to have apologize here. Back off. You’re a man of the people. You’re doing these ads for Big Oil and Enbrel,” whatever it is, “back off.” So he goes out and basically regrets speaking publicly on taxes. He apologized, he regretted not keeping his opinion to himself. I remember last spring, during our annual spring fling Kathryn and I have friends in and spend a weekend and it’s always a lot of fun and it’s great people. And one of the discussion topics was the upcoming presidential race and campaign.
There were a lot of sports people at this spring fling, and I said, “You know, it kind frustrates me, a lot of athletes who have a lot of influence with people, role model and all that, who in no way support Obama, no way support what’s going on. Why don’t they speak up? They could influence a lot of people.”
A friend of mine said — and every one of these guys is idolized by the media, by the way. I don’t want to mention any names, but big time quarterbacks and shortstops, you know, running backs, golfers. My friend said, “If one of these guys speaks up, the media is going to go out and tar and feather this guy. It doesn’t matter, the media is gonna destroy ’em. And don’t forget, Rush, these guys survive on their endorsements. They survive by not being political. Once you take a position on anything, you’re statistically gonna have half the people who hear it disagree with you.”
That’s why Michael Jordan, for the most part, doesn’t get into politics. Sometimes he can’t help himself, he’s a big Democrat, but he’s even admitted, “Look, I hope Republicans buy Air Jordan shoes.” He doesn’t want to do anything to make ’em mad. So athletes, as a general rule, are not gonna speak up. They’re not gonna get political. They’re not gonna get involved in saving the country because, the sports media which idolizes and loves them and treats them like they’re the closest thing to God and royalty ever, will then turn on them.
And here’s a living example of it. Phil Mickelson is loved and adored by the sports media, and he’s cultivated that. It’s part of the image making process. So I guarantee you, somebody, an agent or maybe even one of his corporate sponsors, “Hey, Phil, you gotta dial that back. We just don’t want you going political.” So he did. He apologized and said that he regretted not keeping his opinion to himself.
Now, during a press conference yesterday, Tiger Woods admitted that he moved to Florida in 1996 because of California’s tax rates. You got 18 years, 17 years here ahead of Phil Mickelson. A lot of athletes live in Florida for that very reason. A lot of athletes live in the Orlando area. That’s where Woods lives. Well, Tiger lives down here now, but they come here because there’s no income tax, and the weather. Golfers year round practice and so forth, makes all the sense in the world. So Woods, during a press conference yesterday, admitted it, (paraphrasing), “I moved outta here back in 1996 for that reason.” Woods was at Torrey Pines in La Jolla. He said, “I enjoy Florida, but I understand what Phil, I think, was trying to say.” Now, there’s a way out of this for these guys. Now Tiger’s in trouble, too.
Folks, look, I’m not trying to put myself in their league, but I moved out of New York to a no-income-tax-state for that reason, and I am audited every year by the state of New York, still, after being gone since 1997. I’m in the middle of a nine-month audit right now for just the last year. I didn’t live there. I didn’t work there. I didn’t earn any money in New York, but it doesn’t matter. They’re so cash strapped they’ve got a division in Albany, I’m convinced, that just follows people who leave and move to no-income-tax states.
I remember I announced it on the program one day. I got e-mails and phone calls from people that accused me of being unpatriotic by screwing New York, by abandoning New York, by moving. I said, “Why am I not smart?” Why is this not an intelligent decision? Why shouldn’t I go? If I’ve got the opportunity to keep more of what I earn, why shouldn’t I do that? It’s my money, I earn it, I’ll put it to much better use than a bunch of government bureaucrats. I spend my money in the private sector. I employ people. I provide benefits. I’m a generous guy. What harm could there be, me being in control of my money? “You selfish, you unpatriotic…” I’m sure Mickelson got the same thing. Anyway, what Tiger and Phil could do, if they both come out in favor of gay marriage, everything will be fine.
Diane in North Sutton, New Hampshire, great to have you on the program. Hello.
CALLER: How are you?
RUSH: Very good. Thank you.
CALLER: It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
RUSH: Well, I appreciate that. Thanks so much.
CALLER: Great. What I had to say was that I think Phil Mickelson is getting a really bad shake overall. I mean, why is he being chastised for his comments on taxes?
RUSH: Because he’s selfish! I’ll tell you, it’s a great question because Phil Mickelson is being accused of being selfish. He ought to recognize that people of this country have been given the shaft by the rich for a number of years. It’s about time the rich paid their fair share, damn it. It’s about time the rich gave back. It’s about time the rich gave back what they stole. And Mickelson, he made the mistake, he doesn’t care about anybody. He’s only in it for him. He wants what he makes. He doesn’t want to share with anybody. That’s the attitude. And his agent or somebody got to him and said, “Phil, here’s what we’re dealing with,” described what I just said, so Phil said, “Okay, I’ll go out and apologize.”
CALLER: Right. But however, we could make the point that, when did he start complaining about his taxes? I mean, he didn’t complain about it at 40%, 45. He didn’t even complaint about it at 50 or 55%. I mean, he didn’t start complaining until he reached 62 or 63%.
CALLER: So you could make the argument that, I mean, how selfish is that?
RUSH: Oh, I agree. I agree. The only thing, not to be a nitpicker here, we don’t know if he was complaining privately. We do know his tipping point was 60%. That’s when he decided to go public. It’s a great point.