Before there was a super committee, there was Simpson-Bowles.
The co-chairmen of what was officially known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform told CNBC Tuesday the economic problems the 12-member congressional panel must work at haven't changed.
"It's very simple. If you spend more than you earn, you lose your butt," said former Wyoming Republican senator Alan Simpson, scheduled to speak to the super committee with former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles on Tuesday.
"The American people know the fiscal path that Washington is on is not sustainable. These deficits are like a cancer. They're going to destroy the country from within," Bowles added.
The super committee is mandated by law to finish before November 23 a plan that reduces the U.S. deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years or automatic across-the-board budget cuts will be implemented.
The Simpson-Bowles committee's draft recommendations on reforming the tax code, cutting entitlement spending and other measures to bring down the deficit were never formally approved after 10 months of study in 2010.
Bowles reiterated that "we've got to bring those costs down. You know, our problems are real. None of the solutions are easy, but we've got to stand up to them...and do it now."
Simpson said the idea of spending more on such things as infrastructure now with deeper cuts down the road was something Simpson-Bowles recommended in its draft report.
"We said, we're here to talk about a fragile recovery. We don't want to hurt that," he said. "We want to take care of infrastructure, research and development, all the things we need to do and it's all there" in the Simpson-Bowles draft.