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Council on Foreign Relations State and Local Officials Bulletin
May 2012

Spotlight on State Representative Scott Holcomb

Scott Holcomb represents Georgia's Eighty-second District in northeast DeKalb County where he serves on the Public Safety and Homeland Security, Defense and Veterans Affairs, and Children and Youth committees. He is an experienced attorney and an advocate for veterans's issues. Listen to CFR's State and Local Officials conference call and hear Representative Holcomb offer his comments on challenges to U.S. infrastructure investment and reform. To learn more about Representative Holcomb's priorities for Georgia and his military service, visit his website.

U.S. Contributions to Central American Criminal Violence

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In a new Council on Foreign Relations Special Report, Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue, asserts that although the United States offers substantial aid to Central America to address criminal violence, it directly contributes to the problem through high levels of drug consumption, relatively relaxed gun control laws, and flawed deportation policies. Along with strengthening regional cooperation, Shifter calls on the U.S. government to devote greater attention to domestic drug rehabilitation programs, information sharing on criminal deportees, and tracking arms moving south through U.S. border states.


Taxing the Young to Pay for the Old

CFR's Michael Hodin highlights troubling statistics about America's aging population and the growing tax burden that our workforce will shoulder in order to care for the elderly. Hodin writes, "For every dollar we spend on a child, we spend $2.40 on an over 65er. And if the $68 billion budget on education seems generous, it pales next to the $480 billion annual price tag for Medicare." Read more »

There Used to Be Power in a Union

In this Foreign Affairs essay, Bruce Western, professor of sociology and director of the Malcom Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Jake Rosenfeld, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Washington, argue that income inequality in the United States has increased, partly as a result of the decline of labor unions. According to the authors, the working and middle class are paying the price. Reviving labor won't be easy, but it is necessary if we hope to preserve the economic and social health of America. Read the Essay »

America's Dysfunctional Politics

Listen to Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein discuss their new book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, and the current state of congressional gridlock in the United States. After more than forty years in Washington, both men insist that they have never seen such dysfunction in the political system. Mann and Ornstein come to the "uncomfortable conclusion" that the center of U.S. politics has collapsed and the republican party has "gone off the rails." Listen to the Discussion »



About CFR

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Founded in 1921, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.

About CFR's State and Local Officials Initiative

The CFR State and Local Officials Initiative seeks to serve as a resource and forum for bipartisan discussion on pressing international issues that affect the priorities and agendas of state and local governments, including the economy, trade and competitiveness, homeland security, public health, immigration, and energy supply and climate policy. For more information, please contact Amy Cunningham, assistant director for the National Program & Outreach, at 212.434.9848 or

About the State and Local Officials Portal on

CFR's State and Local Officials Portal,, is a resource and forum for discussion on international issues of local importance. This webpage serves as a guide to CFR's best materials on the topics that matter most to state and local officials and their constituents. In addition to a wide range of CFR materials—including work from the think tank, interviews with experts, meeting transcripts, and new backgrounders—users will find analysis and documents from other sources that have been carefully selected by the website's editorial staff for their relevance and quality.


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