GUEST COLUMN: Financial Stability is Freedom

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 21, 2023

By Treasurer David McRae | Guest Columnist

At last check, the U.S. national debt had tipped over $32.5 trillion. That’s a lot of money.

Think about it this way: $32.5 trillion is more than the economies of China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany combined. Break it down to the individual level and it’s about a quarter-million dollars per person. Yikes.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Even when considered in per-person terms, however, the national debt can be hard to fully conceptualize. The American Legislative Exchange Council did try to give us a few more tangible (and fun) examples back in 2022, reporting it would take 960,000 years to count to 30 trillion or 163,000 trips to the sun and back before your odometer would hit 30 trillion miles. Needless to say, whatever way you think about it, $32.5 trillion is a big number — and sadly, it’s only growing.

For about three decades, the federal government has operated without regard for a balanced budget. Every session of Congress seems to come with another big swipe of the taxpayer’s credit card.

This financial hole weakens America’s economic security as well as our national security. In fact, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen often named debt as the country’s greatest security threat. It’s time to get our fiscal house in order. It’s time to balance the budget. It’s time for Washington, D.C. to follow Mississippi’s example.

Here in Mississippi, we not only live within our means, but we save for a rainy day. Earlier this month new revenue numbers came in that the Magnolia State can be truly proud of. This year, the state paid off about $500 million in debt. Even with that incredible pay-off, we netted a $700 million surplus this year. That is fiscal responsibility at its best.

I’m proud to be part of a state leadership team that has delivered true financial stability to Mississippi. We’ve taken multiple steps to get the state to this place. We’ve gone through many rounds of debt renegotiations that have saved taxpayers more than $285 million. We’ve doubled the state’s General Fund assets to more than $10 billion. We’ve restored College Savings Mississippi’s financial viability. And we’ve strengthened the state’s credit rating.

Just like in our personal lives, the state’s financial stability gives us greater freedom to serve the people of Mississippi now and into the future. I am immensely proud of the work we’ve done and remain dedicated to delivering these results in the years ahead.

If only Washington could function a little more like Mississippi.

Mississippi Treasurer David McRae is the 55th Treasurer for the State of Mississippi.