They seem to me to be a bad idea right now. Nothing done today will bind the President and Congress of 2013 at all, and worrying about deficit reduction right now stops us from worrying about things we could do something about--like high unemployment, idle capacity, slow growth, and crumbling infrastructure.
Still, Paul Krugman watches the action:
Obama, Moderate Republican: OK, not exactly. But Nate Silver’s analysis of the budget proposals is a must-read. Nate looks at polling, and extracts.... What Obama has offered — and Republicans have refused to accept — is a deal in which less than 20 percent of the deficit reduction comes from new revenues. This puts him slightly to the right of the average Republican voter. So we learn two things. First, Obama is extraordinarily eager to make concessions. Second, Republicans are incredibly unwilling to take yes for an answer...
G.O.P.'s No-Tax Stance Is Outside Political Mainstream: [A]ll but 7 Republicans in the House of Representatives, or 97 percent of them, have signed the pledge of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform stating that any net tax increases are unacceptable. One might have believed this to be simply a negotiating position. But the proposal that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell floated yesterday... suggests otherwise. Republicans in the House really may be of the view that a deal with a 3:1 or 4:1 or 5:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases is worse than none at all.... [I]t isn’t surprising that the negotiations have broken down.... [T]here is a larger ideological gap between House Republicans and Republican voters than there is between Republican voters and Democratic ones.
It would be foolish, in my view, to render any overly specific predictions about how the negotiations are likely to be resolved. But I would put greater weight on scenarios that would involve House Republicans not having to violate the pledge... an end-around like Mr. McConnell’s — or even a failure to raise the debt ceiling at all, resulting in some combination of a debt default, a government shutdown, and a Constitutional crisis.... [T]he House Republicans are very unlikely to capitulate on their no-tax pledge. And Democrats have little reason to capitulate either: they are on the right side of public opinion.