This concept has been kicked around for a few days, but TPM boils it down nicely -- if Congress were to do nothing, then deficits would go WAY down. Now, that's different than what a specific desired policy outcome might be -- for instance, payroll taxes go up in 2012 and Medicare payments to doctors go down -- but defense cuts are triggered and the Bush tax cuts would expire at end of 2012. Now ask yourself - do you see those things actually occurring? Or will Congress have to "do" something to "fix" it??
End point being that our current political discourse isn't all that helpful in framing what's really going on for the American people.