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At Facebook HQ, Obama again touts deficit plan

President Obama addresses the crowd during a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. on Wednesday. (AP)

From NBC's Athena Jones
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- President Barack Obama continued his push to sell what he calls his 'balanced' approach to deficit-cutting with an event at Facebook headquarters on Wednesday.

The town hall, which was moderated by the company's co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was the second one this week meant to highlight the president's plan to cut $4 trillion from the deficit over the next 12 years without making the kind of deep budget cuts Republicans have proposed. The president is set to hold a similar town hall tomorrow in Reno, NV.

Calling the plan passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives not "bold" or courageous, but "fairly radical" and "short-sighted", the president also argued it would be bad for the economy.

"The deficit could actually get worse, because we could slip back into another recession," Obama told the crowd, explaining what would happen if deficit reduction leads to cuts in economically vital areas like education, infrastructure and clean energy.

The event streamed live online and included questions from the audience and the web.

While the president's remarks broke no new ground -- with most of the questions and all of the answers fitting in nicely with the president's usual talking points -- it did offer the administration a chance to connect with people using technology and the cache of a web site that is wildly popular among young people and increasingly popular among older web users.

It's all part of the administration's effort to show voters -- many of whom are concerned about the nation's growing deficit -- that putting the country's fiscal house in order is among the president's top concerns. Obama said he did not want to leave getting the deficit and debt under control to the next president.

The White House took issue earlier Wednesday with the suggestion that the Obama camp had made great use of Facebook as part of its messaging strategy and that today's event could be construed as an effort to promote the social networking site in thanks.

"We get our message out in a variety of ways and the President appears in a variety of private enterprises to have events," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. "This is not about endorsing a specific company; it’s about accepting an invitation for a forum to speak to the American people.  This is an excellent opportunity to do that."

Carney noted the site, with some 'half a billion users' reached 'more people than you can possibly imagine.'

Obama has met with Facebook executives several times, visiting with Zuckerberg in recent months and including COO Sheryl Sandberg in a strategy meeting at the White House yesterday on how to tackle comprehensive immigration reform.

The president answered questions about deficit, home mortgages and the Dream Act, among other topics, and closed by asking the mostly young crowd to 'double down' and remain engaged in the political process.

There were some light moments, like when Zuckerberg admitted to being a little nervous during his brief introduction at the top of the meeting and a short while later when Obama joked that he had gotten the young computer whiz to don a suit -- more accurately a shirt, tie, blazer and jeans.

Zuckerberg gave Obama a Facebook hoodie at the events close, telling the president "in case you want to dress like me."