Colorado political writer Ari Armstrong was apparently the first media figure to notice, back in 2007, Bob Beauprez's unqualified support for the central tenant of Obamacare, the requirement that everyone have health insurance. That's called "the individual mandate."
Armstrong, who writes from a pro-free-market perspective, wasn't happy with Beauprez's position on the individual mandate back in 2007, writing at the time:
Armstrong: Some of Beauprez's proposals (none of which are original to him) are fine, such as reducing the tax distortion that has entrenched employer-paid insurance. But his call for mandatory health insurance overwhelms anything positive he might have to say. "Both Ways Bob" simply does not understand the nature of individual rights, the meaning of free markets, or the proper purpose of government.
Now that Beauprez's Obamacare position has blown up into a major issue in the GOP gubernatorial primary, I asked Armstrong if he sees any lessons for the Republican Party, flowing from his original piece.
Armstrong: As for the Republicans, the lesson is that they should stop advocating policies that violate individual rights. Republicans hardly ever even mention individual rights, much less work toward a government that protects people's rights. As a consequence, the typical Republican politician is an ineffective, unprincipled compromiser who surrenders the moral high ground every time he opens his mouth. That is why Beauprez likely will lose, and that is why he deserves to lose.
Here are more of Armstrong's thoughts on the topic today, in response to my questions, including whether he thought Beauprez was making a policy recommendation in 2007.
Armstrong: Obviously Beauprez intended his remarks as a policy recommendation. The title of his article is, "Health Care Reform--The Battle is Joined: A Case for Patient First Health Care Reform." In the article, Beauprez explicitly calls on government to force people to buy health insurance. On the issue of mandatory coverage, Beauprez anticipated the position of Hillary Clinton and of post-election Barack Obama. (Of course, prior to his election, Obama opposed the mandate of Clinton's plan.)
It is worth noting that Beauprez was hardly alone in this. (He's not an original enough thinker to come up with something like that on his own.) Many conservatives, and even some libertarians (see Reason magazine), supported an insurance mandate. It was only after ObamaCare became so unpopular (a result that quite shocked many Republican leaders) that conservatives and libertarians finally got consistently on board with the idea that forcing people to buy any product is wrong.
I do not know whether Beauprez has changed his mind on this or not. If he has retracted his support for an insurance mandate, I am not aware of it. Of course, I am not one of those people who pretends that any time a politician changes his mind, that's a bad thing. If a politician is wrong, he should change his mind.
Armstrong was way out in front on this story in 2007, we'll see where it goes from here.