WASHINGTON – With the debate on Capitol Hill having shifted from job creation to deficit reduction, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Tuesday launched a 12-city summer listening tour aimed at refocusing the economic discussion on the unemployment rate.

"The Republican majority has not offered one bill, one proposal, one concrete idea that would put Americans back to work," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) told reporters on Capitol Hill. "Instead they only talk about cutting spending in ways that would hurt seniors, children, the middle class and the economy -- so that they can protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires."

"What Republicans don't want to talk about is what Democrats know to be true: jobs equal deficit reduction," she added. "That are fifteen million Americans out there and many of the millions of them who are getting unemployment checks would instead love to be paying taxes and lowering the deficit in America. This would boost our federal revenues, bringing down the deficit."

Over the next two months, House liberals and ProgressiveCongress.org plan to "get the progressive bus on the road" and take this message to Minneapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York City, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Portland, Seattle and Oakland.

The CPC has released a long-term budget blueprint that aims to slash the deficit by hiking taxes on high income earners, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and investing over a trillion in job creation. But for now, they say, it's simply about bringing the debate back where it belongs.

"We are standing on principles," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the progressive caucus.

"Our biggest challenges are not half-way around the world, they're half-way down the block," said Jim McGovern (D-MA). "We need to do a little bit more nation building in the United States of America."

"So let's get mad, you guys. And let's tell the man that we love in the White House to get off his butt and start supporting some legislation for jobs," added Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). "We want some action, President Obama."

Photo by Sahil Kapur

Watch the CPC's launch tour video, via YouTube.

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