Bowles and Simpson said the next step is to enact serious entitlement and tax reform to produce about $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction and replace the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts.
The plan calls for reducing Medicare and Medicaid spending by about $600 billion by, among other things, raising premiums on high earners.
Bowles and Simpson also want to overhaul the tax code by eliminating or scaling back most deductions, using some of the savings -- about $600 billion -- to reduce the deficit and some to lower tax rates.
On top of that, the plan would reduce spending by another $1.2 trillion over the next decade through a combination of mandatory spending cuts and other changes, such as altering the way annual Social Security cost-of-living increases are calculated
The fourth step is to take action to make Social Security and highway funding solvent and Medicare sustainable.
"We're going to have to push the White House on entitlement cuts. We're going to have to push the Republicans on revenue," Bowles told CNBC. He called the looming federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, "stupid, stupid, stupid" because the cuts are indiscriminate.
Bowles and Simpson predicted the public backlash from those cuts would lead to public pressure on Washington to replace them with a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan that does not endanger the economic recovery.
They're touting their proposal as the way to do that.
"Although additional deficit reduction need not be enacted all at once in a single package, it should be enacted promptly," Bowles and Simpson said. "The longer we wait the fewer options we will have and the less time we will be able to give individuals and businesses to prepare and adjust."