Last night President George W. Bush gave his final State of the Union Address. Like many Americans, I am relieved that we are finally entering the last days of George W. Bush’s Presidency. Sadly President Bush’s legacy is one of bitterly divisive partisan politics, failed policies, bureaucratic mismanagement, and tragic incompetence.

His policies have been near catastrophic for our country on everything from the misconduct of the war in Iraq to the disastrous handling of our economy here at home. During the last seven years under George Bush, we have seen a historic explosion in the federal deficit and in wasteful government spending, as well as a blatant disregard regard for laws that protect our environment, public health and safety, and our privacy. This record of failure led the American people to demand a new direction for our country in the November 2006 election.

In the year since Democrats took over as the new majority in Congress, we have heard the American people’s call for change and begun to move America in a new direction despite the repeated opposition of President Bush and Republicans in Congress. We have passed billions in tax relief for middle-income Americans and small businesses, increased the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, enacted a landmark energy bill that will fight the causes of global warming and save on energy costs, and passed the largest college cost assistance package since the 1944 GI bill. Despite these significant accomplishments, the Democratic-led Congress recognizes and agrees with the American people’s desire for further change to meet the enormous challenges currently facing our country and the world.

Unfortunately, despite overwhelming support for common sense initiatives such as expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, promoting life saving stem cell research or bringing about a responsible end to the war in Iraq, President Bush has continued to pursue a go-it-alone strategy and rejected countless opportunities to work with the Democratic-led Congress to move our country forward. Based on his speech tonight it appears that the President plans to stick to this failed path and will not relent on these misguided positions that are at odds with the wishes of most Americans. I was disappointed that his address this evening contained only a few new ideas or proposals.

Truly this speech was a disappointment for all Americans who had hoped that in his final State of the Union the President would seize the moment and attempt to address serious concerns regarding the American economy, our huge federal deficit, greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. The President also should have articulated a plan to bring our troops home from Iraq, help fight resurging terrorist forces in Afghanistan, and address the continued threats posed by Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and other terrorists around the world.

As we continue to face growing challenges, particularly from the war in Iraq and our fragile economy, I hope that the President and Republican Members of Congress will finally hear the American people’s call for change and work with us rather than against us to move our country forward in a new direction. We have been able to do this on the recently announced economic stimulus package and I hope that despite the tone and content of most of the President’s speech tonight that in the coming weeks we will find more common ground where we can work together.