First debate clash for Washington U.S. Senate candidates

It was the first clash for three-term incumbent Maria Cantwell and former KIRO 7 news anchor and State Republican Chair Susan Hutchison.

A top issue: Should the Trump tax cuts be made permanent for middle class families?

Hutchison responded, “Yes. I would like to see the tax cuts made permanent. And in fact, I think there is room for more tax cuts. Anytime you improve the economy by lowering taxes it's a good thing.” But Hutchison did not say how she’d pay for it.

Cantwell said, “I'm happy to work on middle class tax cuts to make them permanent, but I'm not going to do it by raising taxes on hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians which this bill does, so I wouldn't continue that.”

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On health care, Hutchison would have voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. Cantwell wants to protect those with pre-existing conditions from what she calls junk insurance.

“Having cheap insurance that doesn't cover you and you end up in the hospital finding out that your costs are not covered,” said Cantwell.

“It has to be solved through a free market system where competition lowers the prices and provides the coverage so that no one goes without.

Clash continued on the subject of Social Security.

The Republican party is now saying they want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. All to pay for what was given away in that tax bill, Cantwell charged.

“We will support Social Security and make sure that it is available for you and your children and your grandchildren,” Hutchison promised.

The debate was organized by a media coalition including KIRO 7 and brought together by the Seattle City Club.

It concluded with a disagreement on gun safety.

“Asked if teenagers should be allowed to be allowed to buy semi-automatic rifles, Hutchison responded. “I don't think teenagers should be, but I do believe that an 18-year-old who can go to war and carry a gun should have the right as law-abiding citizens and under the protection of the Second Amendment have the right to own a gun.

Cantwell responded, “I think the courts made a very important decision in 2008 that yes, the right to bear arms is not just about militia, but doesn't mean that the United States Senate can't do something to better protect our students at schools or the incident that happened at a Mukilteo house party.

Cantwell supported the 1994 assault weapons ban and would support similar legislation again. Susan Hutchison would not.

UPDATE: This story has been corrected to reflect that Sen. Cantwell is a three-term incumbent.