Reagan Tabs Abdnor to Head Small Business Administration

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) - James Abdnor, who lost his Senate seat in the November election, was picked Tuesday as chief of the Small Business Administration and immediately pledged to restore confidence and morale at the embattled agency.

The South Dakota Republican was defeated after one term by Democratic Rep. Thomas Daschle. Abdnor had moved to the Senate in 1981 after four terms in the House.

President Reagan announced Abdnor's selection in a speech as he received a report from the White House Conference on Small Business. Stymied by Congress in his attempts to abolish the SBA, Reagan said that ``a lean and mean SMA will continue to play a role in our administration, even in these times of budget restraint.''

He said Abdnor ``knows small business and knows the nation's capital ... Together we are going to assure that small business will have a strong voice in the nation's capital.''

Failing in his move to eliminate the SBA, Reagan also tried to move it under the Commerce Department. That also was blocked by Congress.

``Now, they've assured me it's going to remain as is, an independent agency,'' Abdnor said in an interview. ``I want to restore confidence back in it and boost the morale of the people.''

With 4,000 employees, the SBA makes loans to help new small businesses get off the ground and to help pay for reconstruction costs after floods and other natural disasters. It has written more than 350,000 loans since it was created in 1953.

Abdnor said the SBA post should not be viewed as a political reward, noting it was not the first time a defeated candidate had received a federal job. …