David Barton Says It’s ‘Not the Role of the Federal Government to Handle’ the COVID-19 Pandemic

Religious-right psuedo-historian and Republican political activist David Barton heaped praise on President Donald Trump for the largely hands-off approach his administration has taken to the COVID-19 pandemic, declaring that the federal government’s lack of response has been an excellent example of federalism.

Barton, who recently faulted Americans for not having strong enough Christian faith to show courage in the face of the deadly pandemic and praised Trump for “not letting medical professionals” determine the response, told Chad Robichaux of the Mighty Oaks Foundation during a Friday interview that Trump’s refusal to use the power of the federal government to address the crisis was exactly what the Founding Fathers intended.

“The Constitution puts all health care at the state level; it does not put it at the federal level,” Barton said. “So this was not a federal question; it is a state question. In the Constitution, you have 17 what are called enumerated powers. The Constitution says, ‘Federal government, here’s 17 things you’re allowed to do.’ And then in the 10th Amendment, it says if it’s not one of those 17 things, it belongs to the states to deal with. Health care was one of those issues.”

“I think the president did an excellent job of keeping the federal government from managing this whole crisis,” Barton continued. “All he did from the very beginning was come out with federal guidelines—we’ve got all these experts, here’s what they’re saying you need to look for, here’s what they’re saying about shutting down—and he turned it to the states to do that. So from the beginning, he respected what we call federalism, and that is this is not the role of the federal government to handle this crisis, this goes to the states … This is actually constitutional the way he’s gone at it.”