Phil Knight Slams President Trump's Tax Proposal

"I think a Border Adjustment Tax is a disaster for the U.S. economy," Knight says.

Phil Knight

Jim Pasero, a political and public relations consultant at Third Century Solutions in Lake Oswego, scored a rare interview with Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight this week.

Although well-known for his leadership of the sportswear giant and his increasingly generous philanthropy, Knight, whose net worth Forbes pegs at $26 billion, generally keeps a low profile in his home state, rarely speaking to the media or appearing in public. (His 2016 memoir Shoe Dog is an exception.)

Knight had plenty to say to Pasero, including his thoughts on President Donald J. Trump's ideas on tax and trade; the future of the University of Oregon; and, the Public Employees Retirement System.

Here are some excerpts from the interview, which appears in Third Century's monthly Oregon Transformation newsletter:

On taxes and trade:

Pasero: President Trump has torn up the agreement and threatened a 20 percent Border Adjustment Tax (BAT). Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady have initially signaled they favor the BAT. What do you think of a BAT?

Knight: I think a Border Adjustment Tax is a disaster for the U.S. economy.

On the University of Oregon:

Pasero: Then-University of Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward commented about the University of Oregon: "It's an embarrassment what their academic institution is, and what's happened to them as far their state funding has gone."…was Woodward right about Oregon's misdirected priorities?

Knight: First, I think the University of Oregon is a very good university. But it has suffered mightily from the continually smaller and smaller annual contributions from the state of Oregon. The university's new president is simply transitioning the school into a private university. He is the ideal person to do that.

On the Public Employees Retirement System, which currently has a $22 billion deficit:

Pasero: Do you think the PERS liability/obligations will inhibit companies in the future from moving or expanding into Oregon?

Knight: I think, left unchecked, PERS will just, very simply, sink the whole state.

Knight had plenty more to say about journalism, his book, and Nike's similarity to Microsoft. Read the rest of it here.

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