This is an all too cynical and dangerous approach to governance.
The second problem is that, even if Democrats could reduce the deficit on their own and somehow could be insulated from the political harm, they have no incentive to do it. Why should they, when the Republicans don’t share the goal? I strongly supported the Clinton administration’s push to save the budget surplus in the late 1990s rather than spend it. In retrospect, that was a mistake. It just made it easier for Republicans to pass big, budget-wrecking tax cuts when they took office. There’s no set of fiscal circumstances under which Republicans would not enact large tax cuts if given the votes to do so.
When you combine these two dynamics, the effect is truly toxic. The more Democrats do to reduce the deficit, the easier they make it politically for Republicans to retake power, and the easier they make it fiscally for Republicans to wreck the budget when they do. So, why try?
I voted for Obama to support a return to some sort of adult governance and a focus on real problems. Easing up on deficit reduction efforts to deliver programs that will please everyone is not that. Republicans retook power because they controlled the narrative, organized a better ground game and were consistently better at gaming the electoral system.