Obama has said he'll consider reducing Social Security cost-of-living benefit increases as some Republicans favor, only as part of a broader package of tax and entitlement reforms that also include raising more revenue from higher-income earners.
Obama's overall approach is to stabilize the debt as a proportion of the economy. Greenstein said given the current state of the economy, that's responsible.
"To stabilize the debt we need to substantially reduce the deficit but not to balance the budget," Greenstein said. "If you balanced the budget right away with the economy still weak, you'd run the risk of sending the economy back into recession."