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President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 25, 2011, on the approaching debt limit deadline. (AP Photo/Jim Watson, Pool)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Decrying a “partisan three-ring circus” in the nation’s capital, President Barack Obama criticized a newly minted Republican plan to avert an unprecedented government default Monday night and said congressional leaders must produce a compromise that can reach his desk before the Aug. 2 deadline.

“The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government,” the president said in a hastily arranged prime-time speech. He appealed to the public to contact lawmakers and demand “a balanced approach” to reducing federal deficits.

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