Linda McMahon thinks middle class tax cuts are the answer for Connecticut residents and Americans alike. For Christopher Shays, the answer is growing the economy.
The two Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls faced off Wednesday night in their second of two debates, which aired on NBC Connecticut.
Shays, who represented Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District for 21 years before being defeated by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D) in 2008, reiterated that McMahon’s business experience—serving as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment—did not qualify her to represent the people of Connecticut in Washington.
“I wouldn’t want Hugh Hefner as the next U.S. Senator, and I wouldn’t want Linda McMahon,” Shays said. “She’s been in an arena that is a make-believe arena.”
McMahon rebutted Shays, saying Washington doesn’t need another career politician.
“What we need is a Senator that’s a job creator,” she said.
When asked how they’d turn around America’s debt crisis—$16 trillion, or $53,000 per person—McMahon said she’d champion a middle class tax cut which would put $500 a month in the pockets of “every average family of four in Connecticut.” Furthermore, she said her plan would reduce the tax rate on businesses from 35 to 25 percent.
McMahon said her solution included “using [her] experience in business to make sure we stop spending more than we make,” she said.
For Shays, the answer to America’s debt woes isn’t vested solely in tax cuts for the middle class.
“What we’re seeing now is not normal,” the former Congressman said. “It’s not normal to have 15 to 25 million people unemployed. It’s not about a middle class tax cut, it’s about growing the economy. It’s about restoring the promise of America, that every generation will be better than the next one.”
How would the candidates help create jobs in Connecticut?
McMahon said it’s important to “get rid of the loopholes, get rid of the special interests, so we can move forward.”
“We need to make sure we have a competitive tax rate,” she said, again adding her desire to see business tax rates to move from 35 to 25 percent.
Shays said he’d like to see the tax rate move from 35 to 15 percent and said his ten-plus terms in Congress have given him the resources to be an effective Senator.
“The bottom line is I have the experience and the knowledge to get it done,” Shays said. “Mrs. McMahon says she has a plan. I don’t think it adds up. She doesn’t pay for her plan.”
Shays said should McMahon be sent to Washington, she’d be the “one hundredth senator there.”
“She’s going to be a junior senator,” Shays said. “I’ve had 21 years of experience knowing what to do. I’m not going to be a junior senator.”
McMahon again said Washington doesn’t need another career politician—either Shays, or likely Democratic Senate candidate Chris Murphy.
What about partisan politics?
“We can’t continue this incredible stalemate that we have,” McMahon said, adding she’s demonstrated the ability to bring people together on differing ideas in the private sector.
Shays said his congressional record shows his ability to reach across the aisle.
“Every bill I introduced as a member of Congress, I sought to [include] a Democrat to co-sponsor [it],” Shays said. “I find people from both sides of the aisle.”
When given time for their closing remarks, Shays offered his desire to engage in more debates with his Republican opponent.
“I wish there were more, but Mrs. McMahon doesn’t want to have any more debates,” he said. “Don’t let someone who [wants to spend] $60 million buy this election. Choose someone who has the experience, the knowledge and the ability to hit the ground running. I will get our country back on track because I know what to do and how to do it.”
McMahon said she is running for Senate because she wants to make sure there are good opportunities available for her grandchildren.
“I’m the only candidate in this race that has a verifiable plan that will cut taxes,” McMahon said. “We don’t need more career politicians in Washington. I want to make sure our middle class has more money in its pockets. If you’ll stand with me, we’ll make sure our children will live the American dream as I have."
Republican voters will decide who will represent the GOP on the ticket on Aug. 14.