Wrecking Crew

Wrecking Crew

by digby

This is how they do it:

TALLAHASSEE — With an eye toward the 2012 elections, Florida Republicans are mounting the broadest assault on their Democratic counterparts since taking control of the Legislature 15 years ago.

Bills barreling through the House and Senate attempt to starve Democrats of their primary sources of cash and halt partisan gains of the last two election cycles. With Republican supermajorities in both chambers, Democrats can't stop them.

On Thursday, the House passed a bill to block the kind of voter registration drives that helped sweep President Barack Obama into the White House and gave Democrats an edge of more than 600,000 votes.

Republicans are also moving bills on litigation overhaul that make it more difficult for trial lawyers — big contributors to Florida Democrats — to mount or profit from lawsuits against hospitals, HMOs, nursing homes, insurers and others. Another large Democratic donor — unions — would be starved of campaign cash through legislation that would sever payroll deductions, a key union fundraising tool. Republicans are also effectively cutting worker salaries, making it harder for public employees to contribute to unions.

They have also passed measures that could add to their nearly absolute power in the Capitol: new campaign finance laws that would increase fundraising power, coupled with deregulation of private business, insurers and developers that would lift burdens from traditional GOP contributors.

"They're going through their entire wish list,'' said Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Fort Lauderdale.

It is bare-knuckle politics at its purest as Republicans shrewdly take advantage of their clout before the once-a-decade process of redrawing legislative and congressional boundaries in Florida leads to a potential dilution of their strength.

"The last election cycle called for bold and aggressive action and what you've seen from the Florida House is bold and aggressive action,'' said Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, one of the House's top leaders.

He is the sponsors of a contentious bill passed by the House to ban unions from using payroll deduction to collect dues.

Now let's assume they will eventually be punished by the people for "overreach" because they are just that crazy. Will it have been worth it to put in place myriad laws and regulations that favor their own sources of money and make it much more difficult for their opponents to democratically win office? I'd say so.

I don't think we'll know the full extent of the damage that was wrought by 2010 for quite some time. That big win, particularly on the state level, is likely to have been one of the more devastating political events of our time. Putting things back together is going to be a huge lift for a long time and I'm not sure it will happen.