Yesterday, we and many others highlighted a blog post written by Todd Henderson, a Chicago-based law professor who said that Obama’s tax hikes on “the rich” might force his family to sell their house.
The implication of Henderson’s post was that his family was not, in fact, “rich,” and that Obama’s proposed tax hikes would hurt him, too.
Henderson’s post created a firestorm of controversy, as people who make a lot less than the Hendersons–namely, the vast majority of Americans–ridiculed the professor’s attitude.
In our own posts and video on the matter, one of which was entitled “Cry Me A River,” we referenced a combined Henderson family income of $450,000, which was being reported all over the web, including by Reuters.
This morning, Todd Henderson, who has since un-published his blog post, reached out to us to say that this figure was incorrect and that he and his wife make less than $450,000 a year. He would not say exactly how much the family makes, citing contractual agreements, only that it was less than $450,000.
Henderson’s original blog post, which Berkeley professor Brad DeLong extracted from Google’s cache and republished here, said the family’s combined income “exceeds the $250,000 threshold for the super rich (but not by that much).”
After hearing from Mr. Henderson, we tried to pin down the source of the $450,000 number. We expect it was calculated through the use of a reverse tax calculator, which ascribes an income of $450,000 to the payment of $100,000 in federal taxes. Henderson’s blog post, however, said that his family’s tax payment of “nearly $100,000” includes state taxes. Based on this information, and some back-of-the-envelope estimates of the likely combined income of a senior law professor and a cancer specialist in Chicago, we now estimate that the Hendersons make about $400,000 a year.
We apologise to the Hendersons and our readers for the error, and we are amending our prior posts and video accordingly.
We also suspect that the reaction to Mr. Henderson’s post would have been equally vehement had the family’s income only been estimated at $400,000.
We asked Mr. Henderson why he had taken his blog post down. He explained that he had taken it down “because my wife did not consent to revealing personal information, and it has caused our family to be on the verge of disintegrating.”
In a follow-up post on the blog, Mr. Henderson noted that this has been a rough time for his family (one of his children was born prematurely, which has no doubt given him firsthand appreciation for the skyrocketing costs of the American healthcare system). He apologized to his wife and his children and anyone who was offended by his remarks, which had led to predictable threats and flame-mail. He also said he stood by every word that he said.
This morning, in a final follow-up post, Mr. Henderson called himself a “fool” for having written his original post and said he was quitting blogging.
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