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Man in the Middle

Now that he's taking over as head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Hector V. Barreto Jr. faces a delicate balancing act. President Bush wants to slash the SBA's budget from $900 million to $536 million--a move that has angered the agency's supporters on the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. "We don't want to see another hatchet job like this," Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) warned at a July 19 confirmation hearing.

Barreto, a Los Angeles financial-services broker who co-chaired the Bush campaign in California, promised to fight for programs like the New Venture Capital Program, which is designed to funnel investment to low-income business owners. To do so, though, this 39-year-old political neophyte may first need a course in the fine art of Presidential arm-twisting. By Nicole St. Pierre

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