The United States officially hit its near $16.4 trillion legal debt limit on December 31, 2012. Now the treasury cannot borrow any new money to help it pay all the country's financial obligations until the debt ceiling is raised. U.S. Senator Tim Johnson said we need to fix this as soon as we can.
At a news conference in Sioux Falls on Tuesday, the Democratic Senator called the debt ceiling the number one issue that could affect America's future. He also touched on speculation about his own future. He has been through more than 30 years of elections, and Johnson said he will decide in the spring whether he will continue or retire.
"It's a question of, 'Is that enough or should I go on?' I'll be 68 by the time my term is up. Is that enough? In the Senate, you're considered a young man at 68," Johnson said.
All jokes aside, Johnson said he is committed to work on the debt ceiling. President Barack Obama has pressured Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Johnson supports this and feels it will not mean more government spending. He said if America cannot pay its bills, voters will pay the true price.
"Social security checks won't be paid. Medicare won't be paid. Vet checks won't go out. Farm payments won't be paid, among other things," Johnson said.
Though he stressed the importance of the debt ceiling, he knows many Americans have been focused on gun control. Johnson will see if a comprehensive bill would work for gun control, mental health and background checks. For now, he thinks state-by-state legislation might be the best option.
"We in South Dakota have far fewer problems with guns than they do in New York and New Jersey. It makes common sense not to have one size fits all," Johnson said.
Johnson said he supports the Second Amendment and pointed out that he is a hunter.
With spring fast approaching, Johnson said his main concern is to stay committed to the work Congress has in front of it.
"There comes a time when you should say, 'That's it,' but I don't know if that time has come yet," Johnson said.