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We present a new lossy compressor for finite-alphabet sources. For coding a sequence xn, the encoder starts by assigning a certain cost to each possible reconstruction sequence. It then finds the one that minimizes this cost and describes it losslessly to the decoder via a universal lossless compressor. The cost of each sequence is a linear combination of its distance from the sequence xn and a linear function of its kth order empirical distribution. The structure of the cost function allows the encoder to employ the Viterbi algorithm to find the sequence with minimum cost. We identify a choice of the coefficients used in the cost function which ensures that the algorithm universally achieves the optimum rate-distortion performance for any stationary ergodic source, in the limit of large , provided that increases as o(log n). Iterative techniques for approximating the coefficients, which alleviate the computational burden of finding the optimal coefficients, are proposed and studied.