Are deficits good or bad? That depends. Sometimes they are good, and sometimes they are bad.
But even when deficits are good, don't use bad arguments to defend them.
It really annoys me.
First as an economist, because it's bad economics.
Second, as a (Canadian, but whatever) citizen. Because we want governments to run deficits when it's good to run deficits, and not run deficits when it's bad to run deficits. And if people use bad arguments to justify deficits, even at times when deficits might be a good thing, we might continue to get deficits even when deficits are a bad thing, if people continue to believe those bad arguments. And I don't want Canadian policy on deficits to get screwed up by bad arguments coming in from south of the border or anywhere else. Especially since the Canadian (Federal) policy on deficits has been reasonably good (in the sense of "not obviously horribly wrong in a big way") since about 1996. Martin/Chretien ran surpluses in the good times, and Flaherty/Harper ran deficits in the recession, and are slowly eliminating the deficit as the economy recovers.
Here's a list of arguments for deficits:
0. "There is no burden on future generations because the extra taxes to service the debt will be paid to those same future generations that inherit (sic) the bonds." That is a really bad argument. It's just plain wrong, unless you believe in Barro-Ricardian Equivalence, which the people making that argument do not believe. Because if they did believe in Barro-Ricardian Equivalence, they would not be saying that increased deficits are a good thing to stimulate demand today (they might argue for balanced budget increases in government spending). So be honest, and don't use that argument.
1. "Yes, future taxes will be a burden on future generations, but monetary policy won't work at the zero lower bound, and we need fiscal deficits to increase demand now, and the benefits exceed the costs." I happen to disagree with the assumption that monetary policy can't work at the ZLB. But I might be wrong. And if it's really important to get out of a recession (which it is) there is something to be said for wasting your grandkids' money to buy suspenders even if you think your belt will keep your pants up.
2. "Yes, future taxes will be a burden on future generations, but the roads and schools etc. we are borrowing to build will be an even bigger benefit to those future generations". Good argument.
3. "Yes, future taxes would be a burden to future generations, but all we are doing is building the same roads and schools a couple of years earlier than we would have done, and doing it when roads and schools are cheap to build, and real interest rates are very low or even negative, so there's a chance that future taxes might even go down if we run a deficit today and pay it all back by building fewer roads and schools in a couple of years." Another good argument.
4. "Yes, future taxes would be a burden to future generations, but the rate of interest on government bonds will on average remain below the growth rate of the economy forever, so we can increase the debt, rollover the debt plus interest forever, without ever having to increase taxes on future generations, who will actually be better off because they will get a higher rate of return on their savings." This argument is valid. But I admit it does scare me, because we don't know for sure what future interest rates and growth rates will be. And because if we overdo it and issue too many bonds, the rate of interest will rise higher than the growth rate. And it would be hard to explain to the public why Ponzi schemes can be stable. But if that's your reason for believing deficits are a good thing, there's nothing for it but to try to explain Samuelson 1958 to the general public, and convince them your assumption is correct!
5. "Yes, future taxes will be a burden on future generations, but future generations will be richer than we are, and it's OK to transfer wealth from richer to poorer". OK. Maybe.
6. "Running deficits in bad times and surpluses in good times but balanced budgets on average doesn't mean higher taxes on future generations, and it's better than having government spending procylical and tax rates countercyclical". Yep, because government spending has diminishing marginal benefits, and tax rates have increasing marginal (deadweight) costs, so we want to keep them smooth over time. Standard micro public finance. Quite apart from any Keynesian macro automatic stabiliser arguments.
There are probably other good arguments I've forgotten. But don't use any of that "we owe it to ourselves" nonsense.