From the war in Iraq to our economy, President Bush and the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress are out of touch and in denial.

Since President Bush took office in January 2001, real incomes have fallen, while the costs of health insurance, gasoline and home heating, and attending college have soared. Millions of Americans are working hard and are unable to get ahead. Republicans' record budget deficits are passing trillions in debt on to our children and grandchildren. Republicans' misplaced priorities of more tax cuts for the wealthy and more record deficits have put the American Dream for the next generation at risk.

On Iraq, Republicans have abandoned the 'stay the course' slogan, but they are still fully committed to the 'stay the course' strategy. Just last week, President Bush said that the U.S. was winning in Iraq and Vice President Cheney said the Administration is going "full steam ahead" with its failed Iraq policy, despite the U.S. Central Command judging the situation in Iraq to be near chaos, with "violence at all-time high, spreading geographically" and four highly respected military newspapers saying of Secretary Rumsfeld, "His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised...Donald Rumsfeld must go."

But tomorrow is our opportunity to make a change.

During this past year, House Democrats have traveled the nation and outlined our proposal for a New Direction for America. We have stressed the need to change the way we do business in Washington. For too many years, we have seen too much partisanship and too little progress.

As House Democratic Leader, I have pledged to restore civility, integrity, and fiscal responsibility to the House of Representatives. We must clean up Congress, break the link between lobbyists and legislation, and allow all voices to be heard. Then we can address the needs of all Americans. And Democrats have a plan to do so.

We will make our nation safer and we will begin by implementing the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

We will make our economy fairer, and we will begin by raising the minimum wage. We will not pass a pay raise for Congress until there is an increase in the minimum wage.

We will make health care more affordable for all Americans, and we will begin by fixing the Medicare prescription drug program, putting seniors first by negotiating lower drug prices. We will also promote stem cell research to offer real hope to the millions of American families who suffer from devastating diseases.

We will broaden college opportunity, and we will begin by cutting interest rates for student loans in half.

We will energize America by achieving energy independence, and we will begin by rolling back the multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil.

We will guarantee a dignified retirement, and we will begin by fighting every to stop the privatization of Social Security.

Working together, we can achieve a New Direction for all Americans.