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Obama embraces Gang of Six defict-reduction plan

Addressing reporters in the White House's briefing room, President Obama today embraced a proposal by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to reduce the nation's deficit by some $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

Obama called the proposal "a very significant step," and said it was consistent with the "balanced" deficit-reduction roadmap he's been pushing for. "We now have a bipartisan group of senators who agree with that approach," the president said. "The hope is that everyone seizes this opportunity."

Obama's comments came after Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn rejoined the bipartisan "Gang of Six" senators working on a deficit-reduction proposal. Politico reported that Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said he would back the plan as well.

According to a summary obtained by NBC News, the Gang of Six proposal would:
-- immediately cut the deficit by $500 billion
-- cut discretionary spending
-- "strengthen" entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid
-- reform the tax code
-- and reform Social Security on a track isolated from deficit reduction.

In his statement to reporters, Obama said that the ongoing negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continues. But he called that effort -- which would raise the debt ceiling -- "the bare minimum that has to be achieved."