Tea Party Group to Address Obama's Spending Challenge

In a photo taken from a video screen, President Barack Obama answers questions on jobs and the economy during a town hall-style gathering hosted by CNBC, Monday, Sept. 20, 2010, at the Newseum in Washington.

President Obama yesterday asked Tea Partiers what they would do to get government spending under control.

Now one Tea Party group plans on answering.

When asked about the Tea Party at a town hall yesterday, Mr. Obama said that Tea Partiers were "misidentifying" his administration as the culprits responsible for the national debt, which recently surpassed $13 trillion. Republicans, he added, have offered unrealistic proposals when it comes to spending and saving. He said the challenge for the Tea Party is to come up with more feasible ideas.

"The challenge, I think, for the Tea Party movement is to identify specifically, what would you do?" Mr. Obama said. "It's not enough just to say, 'Get control of spending.' I think it's important for you to say, 'You know, I'm willing to cut veterans' benefits,' or, 'I'm willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits,' or, 'I'm willing to see these taxes go up.'"

The Tea Party Patriots, a coalition of more than 2,800 groups across the country, is taking the question to its supporters. The group has set up a page on its website where it will be accepting responses to the president's challenge. The responses will ultimately be sent to the White House, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told Hotsheet.

"If he wants to challenge us, we will step up," Martin said. She added that it's "ironic" that the president, who is elected to carry out his Constitutional responsibilities and sign a budget, "now needs help from ordinary citizens."

Martin said that all of the local Tea Party Chapters agree that there should be no tax increases right now. They are also in agreement that Washington should cut its spending to 2000 levels, she said.

Mr. Obama is urging Congress to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for most Americans but to let the tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans in the name of fiscal responsibility. And while the Obama administration argues that their health care reforms will ultimately curb the growth of health care costs, Martin said the Tea Party Patriots overwhelmingly want the health care bill repealed.

The Tea Party Patriots announced today that they received a $1 million anonymous donation to aid in their local get-out-the-vote and voter education efforts. The group said it will be accepting grant applications from local groups and dispersing the funds no later than the first week of October.

Even as it plans to hand down funds via its central organization, the Tea Party Patriots organizers say they take their cues from their local chapters. Their model of organizing was influenced by some liberal groups, like MoveOn.org and President Obama's presidential campaign, Martin said.

Mr. Obama's campaign "had some good ideas that we've used as a springboard," she said.

Watch the Tea Party Patriots discuss their new funding on "Washington Unplugged":

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.