Update — hey y’all, thanks to a reader, I’ve been informed that I failed to highlight a couple CBC members: Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Julia Carson (D-IN). They are now highlighted below. Out of 37 Democratic committee members below, 10 are African-American and 5 are members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. It will be interesting to see if what changes the financial services industry may experience in the next 2 years (if any).

Skeptical Brotha recently made note of Harold Ford Jr.’s taking of a high profile position at Merrill Lynch. I can’t blame Harold. I don’t know what they are paying Vice Chairmen at major financial houses but I bet Harold is making more in one day than I might see in my entire career. I bet if one of us was to see his first paycheck from ML, we would have to say “Day-amn!”

Ford already has a job heading up the DLC. So why all of a sudden is Merrill Lynch on the man like white on rice? As a certified house negro, I am well-versed in the language of The Man. Thus the many press releases and news reports of Ford’s new additional gig raised an eyebrow and peaked my interest. Let me bring your special attention to this quote (emphasis mine):

“We are delighted to have a dynamic, energetic visionary like Harold Ford join Merrill Lynch,” said Stan O’Neal, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. “At a young age, Harold has excelled in virtually every assignment he has ever taken on, distinguishing himself in the Congress and bringing fresh ideas and solutions to government that transcended partisan politics.”

That’s an awful lot of breathless excitement. So why now is Merrill Lynch so very, very excited to have Harold on their team? And er, what partisan politics will he be transcending in his new Vice Chairman’s role, dare I ask? Hmmm, let’s take a look at the new Democratic-controlled House Financial Services Committee and see how many Congressional Black Caucus members are on it, shall we (I’ve bolded CBC members):

“Chairman Barney Frank represents Massachusetts’ Fourth Congressional District. The other Democratic members of the Committee are:

Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, PA
Rep. Maxine Waters, CA
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, NY
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, IL
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, NY
Rep. Melvin L. Watt, NC
Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, NY
Rep. Julia Carson, IN
Rep. Brad Sherman, CA
Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, NY
Rep. Dennis Moore, KS
Rep. Michael E. Capuano, MA
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, TX
Rep. William Lacy Clay, MO
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, NY
Rep. Joe Baca, CA
Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, MA
Rep. Brad Miller, NC
Rep. David Scott, GA
Rep. Al Green, TX
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, MO
Rep. Melissa L. Bean, IL
Rep. Gwen Moore, WI
Rep. Lincoln Davis, TN
Rep. Albio Sires, NJ
Rep. Paul W. Hodes, NH
Rep. Keith Ellison, MN
Rep. Ron Klein, FL
Rep. Tim Mahoney, FL
Rep. Charles Wilson, OH
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, CO
Rep. Christopher S. Murphy, CT
Rep. Joe Donnelly, IN
Rep. Robert Wexler, (FL)
Rep. Jim Marshall, GA
Rep. Dan Boren, OK”

Quite a few influential CBC Members of long standing on the Democratic side of this powerful Committee. There are a number of Latino members on this committee as well. What a coincidence that Harold Ford was recently himself a member of the CBC! My hunch is, given that the Financial Services Cmte is currently chaired by card-carrying liberal Barney Frank with several progressive and activist CBC members on board like Rep. Maxine Waters, financial services companies must be scared near to death. The U.S. finance sector and the African-American community have a mixed history together as we all know. I don’t think we need to go into the details of predatory lending and housing loan discrimination, etc. I would suspect that Merrill Lynch is taking a divide and conquer approach. If they can sway some of the more corporate-friendly CBC members using Harold Ford as ambassador, this will weaken Frank’s support within his own committee for changes that will benefit the poor and middle class.

I hope the coming CBCMonitor report features some info on past votes involving finance such as the Bankruptcy Bill and so on. I think it will be important to shed light on who stands for what. Who in the CBC will be willing to stand up to Harold Ford and stand up for the black middle class?

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