The Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee issued a fascinating and largely overlooked report the other day highlighting how little Congress and the White House have done to deal with the nation’s budget problems. Don’t be fooled by Congress’s recent approval of a $1.1 trillion spending bill. True, the legislation will finance most of the government through September. But passage mainly signals political exhaustion by both parties. On the budget, they’re content with the status quo.

The same conclusion applies to the Budget Committee report. Its tone is congratulatory. The budget outlook, it says, has improved substantially since 2010. And it has. According to the report, projected spending for the next decade (2015-2024) has dropped $7.8 trillion from the levels estimated by the Congressional Budget Office in 2010. Expected deficits over the decade are almost 40 percent lower than those in the 2010 forecasts.

Genuine — if grudging — progress has been made. All the ugly partisan warfare has produced significant, if incomplete, gains.

Or so it seems.

Here’s what the report actually shows: About three-quarters of the spending savings result from trends over which Congress and the White House had little control: lower interest rates ($3.9 trillion over the decade) and slower growth in health spending ($2 trillion). Legislated spending cuts totaled only $1.8 trillion. For context, federal spending over the decade is estimated at nearly $50 trillion.

Put differently, Democrats and Republicans have done precious little to resolve their basic differences over how large government should be, what it should do and who should pay for it. Both have benefited politically from outside events. They have claimed success while evading the hardest choices.

In a letter with the report, outgoing Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) urges Republicans to abandon their “partisan, cuts-only approach” and to accept tax increases. But the advice works both ways. Though Republicans have resisted new taxes (an exception: higher rates on the wealthy enacted in 2013), Democrats have been as adamant in resisting benefit cuts to Social Security and other “entitlements,” including Medicare. Not surprisingly, Murray’s letter does not mention benefit cuts.

Both parties have taken the path of least political resistance. They have heaped spending cuts onto the roughly one-third of the budget devoted to so-called “discretionary” programs — defense and everything from roads to the FBI. (The other two-thirds of the budget consist of entitlements and interest on the debt.) These discretionary programs have been subject to year-to-year reductions that, cumulatively, are devastating. Measured as a share of national income, the reductions are about a third from 2010 to 2024.

Savings from lower interest rates and slower health spending reinforce these cuts. A lackluster economy and negligible inflation have kept rates low. In 2010, the CBO predicted that rates on three-month Treasury bills would average about 4 percent in 2014; the actual rate has been 0.1 percent. As for health spending, annual increases have averaged less than 4 percent since 2009 — much lower than expected. Why? Some experts cite the weak economy; others emphasize the spread of high-deductible insurance policies or provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

As a practical matter, this two-pronged approach has reached its limits. The savings from interest rates and health care will probably not be repeated. The deep cuts in discretionary programs, especially defense, could be suspended or replaced with increases. Even without these setbacks, sizable deficits stretch indefinitely into the future. The publicly held federal debt will increase from $12 trillion in 2013 to nearly $21 trillion in 2024, projects the CBO. The hard choices remain, as does the political stalemate.

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