Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) says when the financial crisis began he encouraged his wife to withdraw all the cash she possibly could from their local bank.
During a speech on the economy [Monday] night, Burr related his immediate reaction the week the crisis began.
“On Friday night, I called my wife and I said, ‘Brooke, I am not coming home this weekend. I will call you on Monday. Tonight, I want you to go to the ATM machine, and I want you to draw out everything it will let you take,” Burr said, according to the Hendersonville Times-News. “And I want you to tomorrow, and I want you to go Sunday.’ I was convinced on Friday night that if you put a plastic card in an ATM machine the last thing you were going to get was cash.”
Now, maybe Burr was trying to be funny, but his comments don’t make any sense. Since the advent of FDIC, Burr’s family money was safe, right where it was. Calling home in a panic, and withdrawing the maximum, only serves to make a bad situation worse.
But even worse is hearing Burr talk like this publicly to voters who may be inclined to think he knows what he’s talking about. The senator wasn’t just describing a bank run, he was suggesting bank runs might be a good idea in the midst of a crisis. As Matt Yglesias explained, “Burr’s effort to whip people into a panic could lead to runs and bank failures. That, in turn, will lead to people losing jobs. People could even lose their business through no fault of their own other than having customers who chose to take the words of a United States Senator seriously. I’m having a hard to imagining what Burr could have been thinking.”
Burr is a vulnerable Republican incumbent, willing to throw around irresponsible rhetoric during an economic crisis. I seriously doubt he was thinking at all.