Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich today blasted his successor Pat Quinn's tax plans as "predictable", part of what he alleges was a scheme cooked up with legislative leaders before he was "hijacked from office."
The appearance on WLS radio's "Don Wade and Roma Show" marked Blagojevich's first foray into the world of political commentary, since he was ousted in disgrace in January.
"He doesn't have to raise taxes, and he can cut taxes," Blagojevich declared, saying there are enough savings to be found in state spending to balance the budget without going directly to taxpayers for more money.
The former governor once again repeated the mantra he recited on national talk shows for a week: that he was removed from office as part of a scheme between then-lieutenant governor Quinn and legislative leaders.
"The deal was, 'Pat Quinn, you have to break that promise to the people. If you do that, we'll impeach this guy before Valentine's Day, and then we want you to raise the income tax.' I was impeached and hijacked without any wrongdoing being proven. I think this was part of a political play, Pat Quinn figured this is the best way I have of being Governor."
And Blagojevich insisted that the tax hike was unnecessary.
"Whose side are you on ... you're a Democrat ... we're supposed to be on the side of the people," he declared. "Pat Quinn, shame on you for wanting to raise taxes on people!"
Blagojevich said he could find $600 million in tax loopholes, which, if closed, could generate revenue to help prevent any increases in the state income tax. He once again advocated closing the aging state penitentiary at Pontiac, saying that alone could save the state $40 million. The former governor said, in promising to keep Pontiac open, Quinn was caving in to pressure from state employees.
"He's pandering to employee's unions! He's pandering to the special interests! Pat Quinn used to be a guy who talked a big game. The first thing he does is sock it to the average citizen with a big tax increase!"
Blagojevich also advocated privatizing the state lottery, and freezing state hiring. And said he felt he had a duty to raise a call to arms.
"You know, one of the things about being out of office, is you can say more things. I could raise my voice and maybe try to mobilize others."
And he leveled another salvo at the lawmakers who removed him from office.
"They take orders from Mike Madigan. Most of them have no idea what the issues are."
Blagojevich called state lawmakers "lemmings", who cave to Madigan's wishes, in exchange for coveted committee chairmanships.
Blagojevich said he had already started writing a tell-all book about his time in office. "I'm gonna tell the truth as I know it, and I'm gonna try to explain how I ended up in the place I'm in," he said.
"Among the things I think this book can do is point out ... how government works ... how politicians sell out the people for personal benefit."
"I can tell you all kinds of the big utility companies, about how they literally own some of these lawmakers!"
"The process is basically rigged to benefit the insiders."
Asked if he feels sorry for Pat Quinn, Blagojevich said he actually felt "shocked" at the new governor.
"In less than six weeks he sells out the people!"