I suspect that I am not alone among my colleagues in feeling somewhat betrayed by your hopelessly off target quasi-editorial on the fate of the Small Business Administration ("Beyond Uncle Sam and His Gifts," Washington, May).

As the executive director of the nation's largest local small-business group, and as a founder of Small Business United (SBU), I thought I understood a few things about political action and small-business advocacy. My impression was that my job entailed promoting political issues that will enhance small business, and opposing those that would damage the small-business community. Your article seems to indicate that there is something un-American about protecting the special interests of small business.

The SBA isn't perfect. Little in government is. But since 1981, the Defense Department's budget has increased by more than 90% (and we know how efficiently those guys spend money), and the SBA's budget has been cut by more than 25%. SBU's position is that to deny the nation's 14 million small-business owners their only independent advocate in government in the name of fiscal restraint is ludicrous. We have offered to conduct a tough-minded review of the SBA's programs with an eye on eliminating those that don't work -- but we're not prepared to watch the agency be subjected to wholesale evisceration based on Mr. Stockman's biases. My guess is that Congress will share our point of view.

EDITOR-NOTE:

The author replies: Mr. Polk's strong personal reaction to my article tends to confirm my feeling that many small-business lobbyists have spent too much time worrying about the SBA. He writes of feeling "betrayed," and suggests that I consider him "un-American" because I argued that fighting to save the SBA might not be the best political strategy for small-business advocates in 1985, a year when such far-reaching economic issues as tax reform will be considered by Congress. It is perfectly American to disagree about these things, but I still think that until lobbyists like Mr. Polk stop relying on the SBA for identity and start participating in the big-time economic debates on Capitol Hill, small business will continue to get short shrift in Washington.

Steve Coll