In an interview on CNBC and other public appearances, they sided with President Barack Obama in calling on Republicans to accept an additional $600-billion in higher tax revenue. But they sided with Republicans in calling for $600-billion in cuts from Medicare and Medicare – more than Obama has agreed to.
"We're going to have to push the White House on healthcare, (and) we're going to have to push Republicans on revenue," Bowles said. In the new framework they announced, he added, "What we tried to do is make enough cuts in healthcare to slow the rate of growth on a per capita basis to the rate of growth of the economy. In our opinion, that takes about $600 billion to do over a 10-year period."
Obama to Republicans: Can We Just Move On?
Obama, in a public appearance of his own, pressed Republicans to compromise on revenue by citing the consequences of the budget "sequester" scheduled to take effect on March 1. As for Medicare and Medicaid, he pointed to the smaller $400 billion in savings that the original Simpson-Bowles report called for in December 2010.
"I am willing to cut more spending that we don't need, get rid of programs that aren't working," Obama said at the White House. "I've laid out specific reforms to our entitlement programs that can achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms that were proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission."
Republican Congressional leaders, for their part, dismissed Obama's remarks as campaign-style posturing and faulted the president for failing to spell out more spending cuts.
—By CNBC's John Harwood; Follow him on Twitter: @JohnJHarwood