Fran Tarkenton, the Hall of Fame quarterback who eluded defenders while playing for the Minnesota Vikings, defended golfer Phil Mickelson's comments about how it may make financial sense for him and his family to leave California to escape the state's high - and confiscatory - taxes.
In an op-ed in USA Today on Monday, Tarkenton wrote, "Mickelson was telling the truth. If there's anything that should upset or insult Americans, it's just how much of their money the government takes."
"After the unfair treatment Mickelson received from partisans and the press, we won't likely hear from him again soon on economic policy," Tarkenton wrote. "That's unfortunate, because his frank talk on taxation is the kind of discussion America needs."
Two weeks ago, Mickelson said it may not make sense financially for him to remain in California after Californians passed Proposition 30, which raised the tax rate on those making more than $250,000, and after the federal government raised taxes on individuals and families making $400,000 and $450,000, respectively.
As Tarkenton noted, the partisans and the media promptly bullied him into apologizing for comments that even PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem, a former economist in the liberal Jimmy Carter administration, said represented concerns many people were having.
"Intuitively, this cannot make sense to anyone who believes in the principles of hard work and personal responsibility," Tarkenton wrote.
Tarkenton said Mickelson was "talking about an increasingly complex tax code that also reserves special punishment for small businesses, working families and even the little guys" because "the rich, like Mickelson, can hire high-priced lawyers and accountants to compute their taxes and take advantage of loopholes" or "they can pick up and move."
The middle class, Tarkenton noted, though, "is not quite so fortunate; most cannot simply pick up and move to a better economic climate."
"A high income-tax state like California is not just driving away successful men and women like Mickelson, but driving businesses out, too," Tarkenton wrote. "This ultimately results in even less tax revenue, which sinks California's economy even more."
He said "this vicious cycle hurts average citizens and the most vulnerable alike."
"I have never seen it quite so bad for job creators," Tarkenton wrote, citing "confiscatory taxes," "suffocating regulations," and "stifling energy costs."
Tarkenton said many people today, because of the tax code, are simply "being punished just for doing business."