ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Rep. Bill Johnson told Belmont County Republicans Monday night the Medicare system won't last the decade unless Congress makes an effort to save it.
A large part of the issue is that a half-trillion dollars was taken from the system to help fund new health care reform, according to Johnson, R-Ohio.
"Medicare is going broke within the next decade, folks - everybody knows that," he said. "The president knows that, and for him to stand up to the American public and say it's the Republicans who want to end Medicare as we know it - it's just an out and out misrepresentation of the truth. His own actuaries have told him Medicare is going broke.
REP. BILL JOHNSON
"If we don't do something to strengthen and preserve Medicare, and protect it for our current seniors, it's going away," he added. "And it's those who take from it and raid it and don't want to fix it who are taking it away. And that's the president."
Johnson served as the keynote speaker for the Belmont County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Dinner on Monday night at Undo's West in St. Clairsville. He began his speech by saying he would "rather be anywhere than in D.C."
Johnson reminded the GOP faithful he doesn't have a residence in Washington. He instead sleeps in his office with an air mattress and sleeping bag when Congress is in session.
"In the brief amount of time I do spend in Washington, one thing becomes apparent - Washington is broken," he said. "We all knew that. But folks, I'm here to tell you it's a lot worse than any of us thought it ever was."
Johnson spoke of his life growing up on a farm, where he stood behind mules to accomplish his daily chores. He said he learned that patience, adaptability and hard work go a long way toward success.
"I took that attitude to the House of Representatives, and when I got there the first thing I noticed - too many bureaucrats in Washington have lost touch with what we're all about. They're more interested in protecting their own job than worrying about yours. And many of them were expecting me to fall in line. ... Fat chance, that did not happen.
"My first major vote was to repeal Obamacare," he continued. "Now that may have made a bunch of them mad, but I was just getting started."
Among bills he has supported was a recent one permitting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil produced from Canadian tar sands through the Midwest to Port Arthur, Texas. President Barack Obama has been reticent to give his support to the effort.
"I'm not expecting any invitations to the White House picnic this summer - I just call them as I see them," Johnson said. "And truthfully, that 's what I think you want me to do, and to keep doing."
Johnson spoke of his "Pass The Budget Now Act," which expands on the current requirement of Congress to pass a budget each year by April 15. Johnson noted the Senate hasn't passed a budget in three years.
Under his measure, members the chamber failing to pass a budget bill forfeit their salary until one is passed, and the money collected would go toward payment on the national debt.
Johnson also told the crowd of his "World War II Memorial Bill," which would provide for engraving the prayer "Let Our Heart Be Stout" on the World War II Memorial in Washington.