The $807,000 loan to Reagan Plastic Surgery jumped out at the e-mailer responding to my call for readers to peruse a list of stimulus recipients compiled by ProPublica.

“Please tell me why taxpayers are subsidizing a plastic surgeon?”

Good question. And the answer is simple.

Brian Reagan is being subsidized is because he runs a small business. And like millions of other small business owners since 1953, he received a loan from the Small Business Administration. SBA loans started being classified as part of the government’s $787 billion stimulus package in February.

Reagan, whom I got in touch with today, is not exactly thrilled with this development.

“I kind of resent being on that list,” said Reagan, who has been performing both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery in town since 2000. “I don’t want people to think I’m getting an $800,000 handout from the government — because I’m not.”

Reagan said he had been planning for years to expand his practice and was already long into the process of getting his loan when the Obama administration announced that the SBA would be cutting fees and increasing loan amounts as part of the stimulus program. It was, he said, a matter of good timing.

He’s getting a $40,000 reduction in the fees that the SBA would usually charge to administer his loan, which is covering 40 percent of his purchase of a “medical condo” in Carlsbad, where he will be expanding his practice in October.

“I don’t’ think it is fair that they put this under the stimulus package — it gives the impression that a government program is creating what I am doing,” he said. “No, I am creating what I am doing.”

Mark Olson, the owner of Oceanside-based Metabolic Response Modifiers has similar feelings. Olson received a $747,000 SBA loan to buy the building that houses his food and vitamin supplement company.

Olson said the SBA gave him a significantly smaller break in fees, about $9,000, which he said went toward increased state taxes. “I wouldn’t call it stimulus money, it’s the same old, same old — they are just relabeling stuff,” he said.

Both Olson and Reagan said they doubt that truly needy business owners are benefiting from SBA component of the stimulus because the requirements have become much more stringent than they were before.

“Only truly qualified people are getting loans these days,” Olson said. “And some who are qualified, aren’t.”

Is this indeed the case? If you are a small business owner in this boat, please e-mail me at: david.washburn@voiceofsandiego.org.

DAVID WASHBURN

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