McRae: A Single Amendment to Our Constitution

By Treasurer David McRae

In November of 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution; I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its constitution; I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.”

While it has long been proposed in Congress, going back to the 1930s and before, efforts to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget have never passed. The closest vote was in 1995 when a proposed Balanced Budget Amendment passed the House and came within one vote of passing the Senate by the required two-thirds margin. Had the measure been approved, it would have then been sent to the states for ratification by three quarters of state legislatures before becoming part of the U.S. Constitution.

That’s a high bar, but our nation’s founders purposefully made it very difficult to amend the Constitution. Only 27 amendments have been approved in our history, so I do not take the process lightly. But with record deficit spending and national debt that now exceeds our nation’s GDP, I believe it is time for states to insist on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I currently represent Mississippi on the Compact for a Balanced Budget Commission, which currently has five member states, including Mississippi, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, and North Dakota. The Compact is advocating to forego Congress and make this much-needed shift through a Convention of the States. 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.

In 1980, the debt-to-GDP ratio was under 30 percent. Today, with our national debt approaching $31 trillion (or over $70,000 per citizen), the ratio is at an astounding 130 percent. What’s more, this outrageous debt is growing significantly faster than our economy, forcing some of our military leaders to name the debt as our number one national security threat.

Our nation’s leaders are burdening future generations of Americans with an unsustainable level of debt and skyrocketing interest costs. I fear my children and grandchildren will inherit a nation that would be unrecognizable to previous generations of Americans. That is why I support forcing Congress to act by passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. We simply must get our fiscal house in order, balance the budget, pay down the debt, and keep the American Dream alive.

View the staggering national debt figures at and learn more about the Compact for a Balanced Budget Commission at As always, if our office can help you or your family with college savings or unclaimed money questions, call us at (601) 359-3600.