The Simpson-Bowles' debt commission proposed $4 trillion in deficit cuts as the minimum needed to stabilize the debt and put in on a downward trajectory.
The tougher decisions lie ahead. Bowles said Congress needs to reform the tax code to make the U.S. globally competitive, control health care costs, address entitlements and tackle wasteful defense spending.
Alan Simpson, the former Republican Senator from Wyoming, said tax reform is the death struggle in Congress. "Everyone knows what we need to do here," Simpson said, "But when you get into the politics it's a horror show."
As he has in the past, the Senator put the blame on anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, who opposes additional tax increases and has made it more difficult for needed reforms.
Tax expenditures, which include things like the mortgage interest deduction and charitable giving, need to be eliminated or curtailed, Simpson said. "Only 20 percent of the American people use 80 percent of these deductions which pull out more than $1.1 trillion," he said.
Bowles added that if you eliminated all deductions, and cut the deficit by $100 billion annually, the top marginal tax rate could fall to 23 percent and corporate tax rates could drop to 23 percent. That he said would help create "dynamic growth."
Health care is the other area the pair said needs to be addressed if the debt and deficit is to be brought under control. Bowle's said that by the end of the decade one-third of the federal budget could be spent on health care costs, up from 10 percent in 1980. (Read More: Here's How to Save $2 Trillion on Health Care)
"This is the number one cause of our deficits," the former Clinton administration official said, "We make promises we can't keep."
If everyone needs health care, Bowles said we need more primary care doctors and nurse practitioners instead of specialists. There needs to be tort reform so doctors stop practicing defensive medicine and generics should be favored over branded pharmaceuticals.