Mississippi News

McRae: We’re better with a balanced budget

By: Treasurer David McRae

Don’t spend more than you have. Live within your means. Save for a rainy day.

These are axioms Mississippians live by every single day. They are truths your state government abides by as well. But our federal government? Well, it seems as though these age-old rules don’t apply to them.

As I’m writing this, the national debt sits at $33,652,750,131,309, which equates to about $100,000 per citizen or $259,000 per taxpayer. To put that in perspective, the average taxpayer owes about as much to the federal government as they’ll make over the course of the next decade (the per capita income in Mississippi is around $27,000).

And yet, Washington continues to dig us deeper into debt. In fact, President Biden’s 2024 budget bill included $6.9 trillion worth of goodies – a package that would spend $1.8 trillion more than the government would take in throughout 2024.

Here’s why that’s a problem. First and foremost, rising national debt hurts our economy. The Peter G. Petersen Foundation explains: “Rising debt reduces business investment and slows economic growth. It also increases expectations for higher rates of inflation and erosion of confidence in the U.S. dollar.”

Second, the interest costs on this debt are rising exponentially. As a result, taxpayers are spending an increasing amount on fees, rather than tangible programs and benefits. The Peter G. Petersen Foundation also reports, “Interest costs were $476 billion in 2022 and are projected to rise to $1.4 trillion by 2033. In 2023 alone, we will spend more on net interest costs than we do on Medicaid and Income Security Programs.”

We don’t operate like that here in Mississippi. We don’t spend more than we have. We find ways to do more good with fewer taxpayer dollars. We save for a rainy day. And we balance our budget – every single year.

I believe the federal government should be forced to do the same.

I am a firm believer that now is the time to add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While we got close to passing the Amendment through Congress in 1995 (it came within one vote in the U.S. Senate), the measure is at a standstill under the current regime.

That’s why I propose a workaround. I currently represent Mississippi on the Compact for a Balanced Budget Commission. The Compact is fighting to forego Congress and impose a Balanced Budget amendment through a Convention of the States instead. We simply can’t wait on a politically charged Washington to act; we can – and must, for the sake of our fiscal house – work around them. Now is the time, as a nation, to stop spending more than we have, to begin living within our means, and to save for a rainy day.

Mississippi Treasurer David McRae is the 55th Treasurer for the State of Mississippi. In this role, he helps manage the state’s cash flow, oversees College Savings Mississippi, and has returned nearly $75 million in unclaimed money to Mississippians. For more information, visit Treasury.MS.gov.

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