Graham Says Obama Is 'AWOL' on Stimulus Debate

President Obama has been "AWOL" in negotiations over the economic stimulus package, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday in a scathing rebuke of the new president.

The South Carolina Republican told FOX News that Obama has not been providing leadership, and he criticized the president for giving TV interviews and writing an editorial touting the package, rather than addressing the complaints of lawmakers.

"This process stinks," Graham told FOX News, before repeating a lot of his criticisms on the Senate floor. "We're making this up as we go and it is a waste of money. It is a broken process, and the president, as far as I'm concerned, has been AWOL on providing leadership on something as important as this."

Republican senators and congressmen have been reluctant to direct any criticism at the president since his inauguration. They mostly have fired shots at Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, saying they have obstructed the bipartisan process Obama sought.

But Graham broke that practice after Obama granted a round of interviews defending his plan Tuesday and wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post Thursday in which he warned of disastrous consequences if Congress does not pass the stimulus bill.

"Scaring people is not leadership. Writing an editorial that if you don't pass this bad bill we're going to have disaster -- we've had enough presidents trying to scare people to make bad decisions," Graham said.

"I like President Obama, but he is not leading. Having lunch is not leading ... and doing TV interviews is not leading."

Obama renewed his plea for the bill at the Energy Department Thursday, shortly after Graham spoke.

"The time for talk is over. The time for action is now," Obama said.

Obama, in his op-ed, wrote that inaction could lead the economy into an irreversible decline.

"Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes," he wrote. "And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse."