Welcome to D.C. Tea Party

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November 13, 2010; Source: NPR | The congressional Tea Party Caucus held a pre-orientation Tea Party-only orientation for its new members this weekend. According to NPR, 40 of the 60 plus new members of Congress received assistance from the Tea Party movement in their runs for office.

So what do Tea Party freshmen talk about at their orientation?

Jim Renacci of Ohio’s 16th Congressional District said, “We need to start looking at our future, as all Americans, and start making things right and the future right.” South Dakota’s Kristi Noem sounded core Tea Party sentiments, “The message of smaller limited government, less spending [that] really resonated [with the voters].”

The Tea Party trainers are concerned that the freshman class will be “told to go along to get along,” according to one orientation sponsor, but the orientation sessions will give the new members “inoculation” against these pressures and “the tools to fight back” using their “leverage and power” as members of Congress.

The November 10 Daily Tax Report quoted Pat Read of Independent Sector predicting that the new Congress will examine “the definitions about who and what should be exempt from taxation [and] who and what should be eligible to receive tax deductible contributions.” She said that Congress would consider “how much nonprofit organizations should be allowed to engage in profitable activities,” suggesting that health care reform will require a review—delineating which of its components should be considered government, nonprofit, or business activities.

Read also predicted that there would be legislative or regulatory action as a result of the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court that unleashed a flood of undisclosed corporate money into 501(c)(4)s for partisan political activity. Others think that Congress will not be particularly disposed to taking on some of these questions, but the definition of tax exempt activities in relationship to hospitals and universities might well be the subject of committee hearings.

The question we want to ask is, where is the orientation session being offered by the nonprofit sector leadership?—Rick Cohen