The president has three solutions for this problem.

First — magic! — it already happened. He is claiming to have reduced the deficit by $1.2 trillion already. How? Mostly because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are ending. Yes, by counting money that would never have been spent anyway as having been “saved,” he has proven himself a responsible steward of the nation’s dollars.

Second, he wants to raise taxes on the rich. More. He just got a $600 billion tax hike, but he wants a balanced approach — by which he now means he wants an approach that features more tax hikes in exchange for . . . more tax hikes.

Third, and this is something we can all agree on, he wants to see significant economic growth. A rapidly growing economy is the one force that can pump money into government coffers fast enough to provide enough cash to prevent the need to raise the debt ceiling so quickly.

And how are things looking on that front? Well, they were looking good . . . until horrible trade-deficit figures for December came out and everybody began saying that economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 was probably considerably weaker than expected.