President Barack Obama insisted four years ago that the nation must make “hard decisions” to preserve entitlement programs.

But on Monday, the “hard choices” he spoke of on health care and the deficit came with a major caveat: He’s not willing to give up much.

“The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us,” Obama told the cheering crowd as he launched his second term. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

His inaugural address promised an ambitious progressive agenda — and laid bare Obama’s deeply conflicted relationship with entitlement reform.