President Obama was specific in his inaugural address about some themes that touch on the role of government, which is being debated by Democrats and Republicans.

He made an assertive case for preserving entitlement programs (with a direct reference to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security), affirmed his belief in gay rights and addressing climate change, and brought the argument for equality front and center.

The upcoming State of the Union address is likely to address the role of government, and perhaps that of federal workers, more directly. But Obama made two broad references to his view of government: “Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time.”

And “We have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.”