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Louis Jacobson, Politifact Staff Writer

Louis Jacobson

Louis Jacobson is a senior writer for PolitiFact and the Tampa Bay Times. He has served as deputy editor of Roll Call and as founding editor of its legislative wire service, CongressNow. Earlier, he spent more than a decade covering politics, policy and lobbying for National Journal magazine. Since 2002, he has handicapped political races, including state legislatures, governors, congressional seats, state attorneys general and the electoral college, currently for Governing. In 2004, Jacobson originated the "Out There" column on politics in the states, which ran in Roll Call and later in and which won five annual awards from Capitolbeat, the association of state capitol reporters and editors.

Phone: (202) 463-0576

The Jacobson file:


  1. PolitiFact Florida: Rubio largely right that Cuba promised no democratic reforms


    Sen. Marco Rubio has taken the lead opposing President Barack Obama's overhaul of U.S.-Cuba relations. His main complaint: The United States isn't getting enough out of the deal, especially when it comes to democratic reforms.

    "The White House has conceded everything and gained little. They gained no commitment on the part of the Cuban regime to freedom of press or freedom of speech or elections," he said. "No commitment was made to allowing the establishment of political parties or to even begin the semblance of a transition to a democracy."...

    Sen. Marco Rubio on Cuba: “The White House has conceded everything and gained little.”
  2. PunditFact fact-checks Dick Cheney on CIA torture remarks


    Former Vice President Dick Cheney has had a relatively quiet couple of years since leaving the White House. But with the release of a Senate report on alleged torture by the CIA, it was inevitable that Cheney — who is closely associated with the post-9/11 policy of "enhanced interrogations" for captured terrorists — would return to television screens.

    The report concluded that techniques signed off on by Cheney and President George W. Bush were not an effective way to gain intelligence from detainees, and that the CIA misled Congress and the White House. The report detailed such techniques as "rectal rehydration" and the use of coffin-size confinement boxes....

    Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, Dick Cheney (pictured in March) said the deaths of 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001, at the hands of al-Qaida terrorists justified expanded interrogation methods and the subsequent invasion of Iraq. [Chris Usher/CBS News Photo via Getty Images]
  3. PolitiFact Florida: Jeb Bush's cherry-picked graduation statistic

    State Roundup

    With the 2014 elections in the rear-view mirror and 2016 coming up fast, the political world has begun speculating about whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — son of one president and brother of a second — could seek the White House himself.

    In a recent fundraising letter sent on behalf of the Excellence in Education Foundation, Bush discusses one of his signature issues.

    "In order to have any lasting success, we must first transform our failing education system and have no tolerance for the adult-centered K-12 system that exists today....

    The political world has begun speculating about whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush - son of one president and brother of a second - could seek the White House himself. [Getty Images]
  4. Republicans' Election Night wave: It was big


    Most political analysts expected that Election Night 2014 wouldn't be a happy one for the Democrats. But the scope of the carnage was still something of a surprise.

    Not only did the Democrats lose their majority in the U.S. Senate and fall further behind in the U.S. House, but they also performed miserably in the closest gubernatorial races.

    Before the election, we offered 10 yardsticks to use when judging the scale of the Republican wave. Now that the ballot-counting is (mostly) finished, we can see what these metrics show....

    Senator-elect, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, (R-Colo.), delivers his victory speech to supporters during a GOP election night gathering at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, in Denver, Colo., Tuesday Nov. 4, 2014. Gardner defeated his Democratic opponent, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) COBL131
  5. Perspective: A scorecard for election night


    Will the Republican Party enjoy a wave election in 2014? Here are some metrics that can help you determine the answer as you follow the returns Tuesday night.

    The GOP has the upper hand in this midterm election cycle because it's the sixth year of a presidency — and a pretty unpopular one at that. Historically, parties that don't control the White House tend to chalk up a lot of gains in midterm elections such as this one....

    Mitt Romney, speaks Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, at a rally endorsing U.S. Senate republican candidate Ben Sasse at the Hastings City Auditorium in Hastings, Neb. (AP Photo/The Hastings Tribune, Laura Beahm) NEHAS102
  6. PolitiFact: Is Obama or Bush to blame for big budget deficit in 2009?


    The statement

    "When I took office, the deficit was nearly 10 percent of our economy. Today, it's approaching 3 percent."

    President Barack Obama, Oct. 2, in a speech at Northwestern University

    The ruling

    We looked at data from the Office of Management and Budget that tracks the federal deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product. Calculating it this way shows not the absolute level of the deficit, but rather how big it is in relation to the size of the broader economy....

    President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Obama is looking to frame the closing economic arguments of the midterm campaign. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ILNH105
  7. PolitiFact: Is minimum wage disparity to U.S. as stark as stated?


    The statement

    Countries with a higher minimum wage than the United States' $7.25 an hour include Denmark at $21, Australia at $15.81, Germany at $11 and France at $12.35.

    Facebook meme

    The ruling

    There are two major methods for comparing minimum wages between countries. The meme uses the most basic way — using exchange rates to convert the wage amount from the foreign country's currency to U.S. dollars. ...

  8. PolitiFact: Medicare, that favorite campaign attack line


    When it comes to claims about Medicare, some political talking points just never die.

    In Iowa and Virginia, Republicans have accused Democrats of cutting Medicare to pay for Obamacare. In Florida, a Republican was slammed for ending the Medicare "guarantee." Other Medicare-related attacks have been deployed in Arkansas and Kentucky Senate races. The point of all the attacks is to convince midterm voters that one side or the other won't protect the program....

  9. The Buzz's House vulnerability rankings for Florida


    Six months is an eternity in campaign time. In March -- the last time the Buzz ranked the Florida congressional seats on how vulnerable they might be to a partisan takeover this fall -- we included eight seats as being at least a teensy bit competitive.

    Now? The list is down to three -- barely.

    The biggest change is that the No. 1 seat in March -- the District 13 seat left vacant by the death of Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young -- is no longer on our list. The winner of the hard-fought March special election, Republican David Jolly, is cruising toward an easy victory in November, due to the Democrats’ utter inability to find a candidate to run in the highly competitive Pinellas County district....

  10. ALS Association's spending aligns with its stated mission


    The statement

    "Over 73% of all donations raised (from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge) are going to fundraising, overhead, executive salaries, and external donations."

    Bloggers, Aug. 28 in posts

    The ruling

    By now, there are very few Americans who haven't heard of the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge" — the social media-driven campaign to dump ice water on your head as a way of raising awareness of the neuromuscular disease ALS and promoting donations to the ALS Association, which funds medical research and support programs for those who have the disease....

  11. PolitiFact: Obama shouldn't cast Congress' mandated recess as vacation


    The statement

    Congress is on "vacation."

    President Barack Obama, Aug. 2, in an address

    The ruling

    The annual August break is required by law, according to an Aug. 6 Wall Street Journal blog post by Linda Killian, a senior scholar at the Wilson Center, a think tank.

    The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970, she wrote, directs the House and Senate to recess for the month of August, until after Labor Day. The act says that unless Congress provides otherwise, the House and Senate shall adjourn no later than July 31 of each year or so and, it looks to us, to remain adjourned to the second day after Labor Day. (It does say the mandate shall not be applicable in any year there's a state of war as declared by Congress as of July 31.)...

    President Obama speaks about the situation in Ukraine in the Press Briefing Room of the White House on Thursday Aug. 28, 2014. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT) 1156695
  12. Tear gas illegal in warfare but not for police


    Law enforcement officers in Ferguson, Mo., used tear gas extensively in the wake of the police-shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed African-American. The conflict in Ferguson led one PolitiFact reader to ask us to check the accuracy of a social-media meme now circulating that addresses the legality of tear gas.

    The meme — posted by the group, an advocacy group for young Americans — said, "Tear gas has been classified as a chemical weapon and banned in international conflict since 1993. Why is its use allowed by U.S. police forces?" The post had garnered 143,000 likes, 42,000 shares, and 35,000 comments by late August. We wanted to know if it was accurate....

    Police often used tear gas in the Ferguson, Mo., protests. Though treaties ban its use on the front lines — in part because it’s hard to distinguish one gas from another in the fog of war — it is allowed for domestic police use.
  13. Politifact: The meme about the summer of '78 and college tuition


    The statement

    "In 1978, a student who worked a minimum-wage summer job could afford to pay a year's full tuition at the 4-year public university of their choice."

    Facebook posts, Aug. 7 in meme on social media

    The ruling

    Everything was better in the old days, apparently — including the chore of paying for college, at least according to a social media meme sent to us recently by a reader....

  14. PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton exaggerates economic stats under Bill Clinton


    The statement

    The number of jobs created and people lifted out of poverty during Bill Clinton's presidency was "a hundred times" what it was under President Ronald Reagan.

    Hillary Clinton, July 17 on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show

    The ruling

    Both presidents entered office during weak economic times and exited before the economy went into a downturn....

  15. Politifact: Pelosi misspeaks in attack on Supreme Court


    The statement

    The U.S. Supreme Court is "five guys who start determining what contraceptions are legal."

    Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader, at a July 10 press conference

    The ruling

    Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly took the media to task for not immediately shooting down Pelosi's assertion.

    "I've seen the media rush to clarify Ms. Pelosi's misleading remarks … Oh, no, I have seen none of that, except on Fox News," Kelly said sarcastically. "When you've got somebody in such a powerful a position as Nancy Pelosi, in a position to influence so many people on such a platform, come out and tell blatant falsehoods, there should be some fact-checking. Where is PolitiFact on that?"...