Rather, there would be a normal, relatively short-term increase in the deficit resulting from a deep recession and the drop in government revenues that it produces. When the economy recovered, the deficit would return to sustainable levels. In the meantime, these deficits are necessary and useful to maintain public spending as a tonic to the economy.
In addition, there are two entirely extraneous questions that do not belong in this debate -- whether Social Security requires any long-term adjustment to assure its solvency, and if so, what kind; and how to restrain the long-term growth in Medicare spending.
In fact, if we get can get back to full employment, there is no Social Security crisis, because Social Security is financed by taxes on payrolls. In the Clinton era, when we had full employment, the crisis kept receding. If we want a little extra insurance, we can lift the cap on income subject to payroll taxes.
Medicare spending is a long-term problem that requires major structural reforms. Reducing benefits or raising the eligibility age in the heat of an artificially contrived fiscal crisis is the wrong way to proceed. Obama's Affordable Care Act will keep Medicare at roughly its present level of spending relative to GDP -- too high, but not an imminent catastrophe.
The strategy of the right-wing has been to blur these several distinct issues into a single grand fiscal crisis, the better to reduce government spending and especially to cut Social Security and Medicare. The right-wing, in this case, is a two-headed beast. The Republican right-wing is mainly interested in defending tax cuts for the rich and reducing social spending generally, while the deficit hawks of the center-right want to achieve budget balance and weaken Social Security and Medicare. And since Social Security and Medicare are phenomenally popular, so much the better for the Republicans if they can trick the Democrats into sharing responsibility for the deed.
A further piece of mischief is the premise that we somehow need a 10-year budget deal that reduces the projected deficit by something like $4 to $5 trillion. We don't. What we need is an economic recovery. If we get a recovery with something close to full employment, the deficit naturally comes down as revenues to and current levels of public spending are entirely sustainable -- especially if we go back to the pre-Bush tax levels on the wealthy.