Phil Mickelson choked on a gimme putt this week, but it wasn’t on a golf course.
According to the AP’s golf writer, America’s most popular golfer "put his popularity on the line with polarizing comments about how much he has to pay in state and federal taxes."
Now it’s "polarizing" for an American to hint that because of the higher federal and state income tax rates on millionaires leveled by Sacramento and Washington, he might have to migrate to Florida or Texas?
Though he had every right to, Mickelson didn’t knock Obama or gripe like a Tea Partier about the federal, state and local tax bite on his estimated $45 million in annual earnings -- about 62 percent.
Mickelson spoke the truth. Most pro golfers already live in Florida, and for good reason. It’s not because of the warm weather, it’s because there’s no state income tax.
Tiger Woods, who bravely stuck up for Mickelson, has admitted without shame that he moved to Orlando years ago to escape California’s income tax, which is now set at 13 percent on California’s 35,000 remaining millionaires.
Ditto for Rush Limbaugh, who became a Floridian because of New York’s confiscatory state and local taxes.
It’s outrageous that any American -- Mickelson, Woods, Mitt Romney or super-liberals like Babs Streisand or Bobby Redford -- is forced to fork over 60 percent of their honest earnings to government.
But it isn’t just wealthy pro golfers who are being driven out of California by high taxes.
Before Jan. 1, an older surgeon I know closed his practice, laid off his four employees, sold his house and moved to Nevada.
He was still a practicing surgeon, not because he needed the money but because he loved being a surgeon.
But the higher income tax rates now in effect under Proposition 30 for those earning more than $250,000 were too much for him and so the Broken State of California lost a good surgeon and four other jobs.
It’s a shame Mickelson turned out to be such a wuss. Wouldn’t it have been great if he had stood tall and become a tax-protesting hero -- the Gerard Depardieu of America?
Depardieu, the wealthy and popular French actor, shocked the liberal intelligentsia of Europe with his defiant, politically incorrect and very public stand against France’s confiscatory tax on the rich.
Decrying the 75 percent levy his socialist government is trying to put on millionaires, he moved to Belgium, gave up his French passport, and accepted the grant of citizenship from Russia, where the income tax is a reasonable, flat 13 percent.
Mickelson, meanwhile, chickened out.
He issued a sniveling apology this week, saying, "Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public. I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend not to let it happen again."
Now it’s apparently an insult to the poor -- or a thought crime -- for a rich and successful American to publicly point out that his taxes are so high he’s thinking of moving to where they’re lower.
It’s too bad about Mickelson. Instead of apologizing and backtracking, he should be telling everyone about how high taxes are driving rich and successful people like him out of the state, demanding serious tax cuts and threatening to run for governor.
California is a state that already has more takers than makers. It can’t afford any more wusses.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin’s Press)