SBA administrator resigns

Small Business Administration Administrator Hector Barreto has announced his resignation from the agency.

Little information is available about the resignation or Barreto's reasons, but congressional Democrats began issuing statements reacting to the news this afternoon.

"The president has a real opportunity here to show a commitment to helping America’s small businesses from all sectors succeed," said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in his statement. "His true colors will be revealed in his choice. America’s entrepreneurs need an advocate, not more of the same Bush administration big business agenda."

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, (D-N.Y.), said in her statement that Barreto was simply not up to the job. She has long been a critic of the agency's performance in providing small-business loans and enforcing federal contracting goals. She also had sharply criticized SBA for what she considered a sluggish and inadequate response to small-business owners who requested emergency loans following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

“What we need now is a new voice that will speak their mind when the president is wrong, defend the needs of this nation’s entrepreneurs, and fight for the best interests of small businesses -- just as a number of past administrators have done," she said in her statement. "With the right leadership, this agency could return to the days of the 1990s when it was a driving economic force."

During Barreto's tenure, SBA’s budget has been cut in half, from $1.1 billion in fiscal 2001 to $593 million in 2006, Velazquez said. That and other events, including Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) recent hearing on the agency, lead some small-business advocates to fear that the administration may be planning to eliminate the agency.

"I'm concerned that they might try to do that," said Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League. "Who [Bush] picks to replace Barreto will tell us what direction they're going to try to take it. They may try to hire somebody to straighten it all out because of the bad approval ratings."

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