Sunstein, now on the faculty at Harvard, has a name for this approach: “I like to think of him as a ‘University of Chicago’ Democrat.”
It’s a useful label. Today’s Democratic consensus has moved the party to the left, and on issues like inequality and climate change, Obama appears willing to be even more aggressive than many fellow Democrats. From this standpoint, he’s a true liberal. Yet he also says he believes that there are significant parts of Reaganism worth preserving. So his policies often involve setting up a government program to address a market failure but then trying to harness the power of the market within that program. This, at times, makes him look like a conservative Democrat.
The University of Chicago, as you might know, is ground zero of the supply size market economics that has dominated American economic policies for the last 30 years. It's where Milton Friedman made his lair, and his devotion to the idea of the primacy of markets defines the outlook of this economic perspective. The way Obama seems to be integrating that point of view with his other more liberal views is quite fascinating. Give the article a read.