Congress had 17 months to address the cliff, but it didn't start negotiating in earnest until about six weeks ago.
"In fact, Washington politicians set it up to force themselves to seriously deal with our nation's long term fiscal problems. Yet even after taking the country to the brink of economic disaster, Washington still could not forge a common sense bipartisan consensus on a plan that stabilizes the debt," Bowles and Simpson said in a statement.
The bill would reduce deficits by less than $750 billion over a decade but only if compared to a scenario in which all the Bush tax cuts were made permanent and other fiscal cliff measures were canceled. If measured against a scenario in which the fiscal cliff stayed in place permanently, it would add nearly $4 trillion to deficits.
What's in the fiscal cliff bill?
Either way, it doesn't establish a path in which the country's debt would stop growing faster than the economy, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget noted in its analysis of "the good, the bad and the ugly" in the compromise.
Independent deficit hawks gave up hope awhile ago that lawmakers would work out a detailed "grand bargain" in the context of a fiscal cliff deal.
But they continued to hope that a deal would include a framework for tax and entitlement reform that Congress could pursue in 2013.
Even that didn't happen. And the White House and Congress have both acknowledged more work needs to be done.
Until it is, "policy decisions will continue to be driven by short-term crisis management rather than responsible strategic planning," Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, wrote in a blog post.
What's more, Bixby added, "uncertainty will continue to be a drag on the economy, public frustration with the political process will grow and the debt burden hanging over future generations will remain as our legacy."