SALT LAKE CITY — Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson is defending his vote last year for a massive federal stimulus package, and saying his Republican opponent would have let the economy sink into a deeper recession.

Matheson debated GOP challenger Morgan Philpot Monday on KUER-FM in Salt Lake City.

Philpot said he would have cut government spending and regulation instead of voting for the stimulus bill.

Matheson noted that more than a third of the $787 billion stimulus package came in the form of tax cuts. He said economists warned at the time that something needed to be done to stop the economy from plunging any further.

The Great Recession lasted from December 2007 to June 2009.

Matheson is seeking a sixth term representing Utah's Republican-leaning 2nd District.