Bank-run Burr’s bogus explanation

BANK-RUN BURR’S BOGUS EXPLANATION…. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) offered some unusually irresponsible talk this week, suggesting the appropriate response to an economic crisis is a bank run. In a speech on Monday, he told voters that at the start of the crisis, he instructed his wife to go the ATM every day and “draw out everything it will let you take.”

Interest in Burr’s bizarre comments made the rounds fairly quickly. The senator is now trying to explain himself. (via Rachel Weiner)

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr downplayed the flap over his withdrawal of money from an ATM during last fall’s banking crisis, saying he did what many people did.

Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, said Thursday that there were questions about the liquidity of the banking industry that led to the first emergency federal bailout. So while he was in Washington, he called his wife, Brooke, at their Winston-Salem home and asked that she withdraw $500 from an ATM over the weekend.

“There are individuals in this country who keep cash at home,” Burr said in an interview after a talk to coalition of officials from the biopharmaceutical industry. “I don’t happen to be one of those. I live from ATM machine to ATM machine. The reality is when you look at a financial industry that is not exchanging capital, it immediately says you better have a little bit of cash set aside.”

It’s one thing to encourage families to have “a little bit of cash set aside” in their home in the event of an emergency. It’s something altogether different for a U.S. senator to tell voters withdrawing the maximum from an ATM during an economic crisis is a reasonable thing to do.

What’s more, Burr lives “from ATM machine to ATM machine”? I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it still misses the point. Since the advent of FDIC, Burr’s family money was safe, right where it was. Calling home in a panic, and withdrawing the maximum as a crisis unfolds, only serves to make a bad situation worse.

Oddly enough, as this story has gained traction, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is peddling Burr’s odd comments as perfectly sensible.

Brian Walsh, the communications director for the NRSC, said, “The Democrats’ response highlights perfectly the competing views of the two parties when it comes to strengthening the economy…. In just the first three months of this year, Senate Democrats have voted for more spending than the previous Administration spent on Iraq, Afghanistan and Katrina recovery combined so it’s little wonder Americans want to keep their hard earned money away from the grips of Washington.”

Even by the NRSC standards, this doesn’t make a lick of sense. Burr wasn’t talking about keep money away from Washington, but rather, taking money out of banks at the first sign of an economic crisis.

As Chris Orr concluded, “According to a party spokesman speaking on the record to a national news outlet, the GOP not only believes in starting bank runs, but considers this selfish, panicky, wildly destructive position a perfect illustration of ‘the competing views of the two parties.'”

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