POLITICS
05/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Burr Encourages Run On Banks

UPDATE 5/1: Sen. Richard Burr, widely criticized for telling his wife to pull cash out of the bank during the banking crisis, has no regrets.

"Absolutely I'd do it [again]," the Republican senator told North Carolina's WFAE. "The exact situation we were faced with was a freeze bank to bank. And as I stated, my attempt was to make sure my wife had enough cash at home to make it through the next week."

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UPDATE 4/17: Sen. Richard Burr is defending his decision to pull as much cash as he could out of ATMs when the banking collapse hit last fall.

"There are individuals in this country who keep cash at home," Burr said in an interview with the Charlotte News-Observer. "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."

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UPDATE 4/16: The National Republican Senatorial Committee, far from distancing itself from North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr's dangerous suggestion that people should make a run on the banks, is proudly touting the remark.

Brian Walsh, the communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, 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 its little wonder Americans want to keep their hard earned money away from the grips of Washington," he also said.

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Via Washington Monthly, North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr has taken an interesting approach to the economic crisis. He told constituents Monday that when major financial institutions started collapsing last fall, his response was to make a run on the bank before all the money was gone:

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. 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."

Matthew Yglesias expands on the implications if citizens were to follow Burr's lead and pull their money out of the banks.

Thanks to deposit insurance, there's no actual need for people to be worried. But Senator 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.

A local blog wonders if the Senator used inside information to protect his family's assets but withheld it from his constituents.

Fortunately, most North Carolinian probably aren't taking advice from Burr. He has a dismal 35% approval rating in the state and faces a rough reelection campaign in 2010.

In fact, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already seized on the remarks. "If this is Senator Burr's economic recovery plan for himself, it is no surprise he doesn't have one for the country," said Communications Director Eric Schultz in a statement blasted out to reporters. "Senator Burr, as a champion of the George Bush economy helped create this mess but will not lift a finger to get us out of it. Burr continues to root for economic failure, offering plenty of grim economic assessments but no solutions."

The campaign also inducted Burr into their "Hall Of Shame," an honor bestowed on many current and former Republican targets. (Former North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who lost her seat in 2008, is on there.) "North Carolina needs a senator who will work hard to get our economy back on track," the news release reads, "not one whose only 'solution' is rushing to the bank in a panic to withdraw money."

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