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 Stateline.org and which won five annual awards from Capitolbeat, the association of state capitol reporters and editors.

Phone: (202) 463-0576

The Jacobson file: PolitiFact.com

E-mail: ljacobson@tampabay.com

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  1. PolitiFact: Is minimum wage disparity to U.S. as stark as stated?

    Business

    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. ...

  2. PolitiFact: Medicare, that favorite campaign attack line

    News

    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....

  3. The Buzz's House vulnerability rankings for Florida

    Blog

    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....

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

    Business

    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....

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

    National

    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
  6. Tear gas illegal in warfare but not for police

    Perspective

    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 OurTime.org, 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.
  7. Politifact: The meme about the summer of '78 and college tuition

    National

    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....

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

    Business

    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....

  9. Politifact: Pelosi misspeaks in attack on Supreme Court

    National

    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?"...

  10. PolitiFact: Fact-checking claims on immigration (w/video)

    Perspective

    The surge of unaccompanied children at the U.S. border, primarily coming from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, has overwhelmed border security officials and pushed the limits of the U.S. legal system.

    That's got elected officials talking about the underlying causes of the influx, as well as what should be done to address it.

    PolitiFact has been fact-checking claims on immigration as the debate rages. While a few statements we've checked were verifiable, we also found a number of inaccurate statements. Here's a summary of our recent findings....

  11. PolitiFact: Are child care costs higher than tuition?

    National

    The statement

    "In 31 states, decent child care costs more than college tuition."

    President Barack Obama, in a speech June 23

    The ruling

    We tracked down the source of the claim: a 2013 report by Child Care Aware of America, which describes itself as the "nation's leading voice for child care."

    After surveying child care providers in all 50 states, the report concludes that "in 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year's tuition and fees at a four-year public college." Among the 50 states, the costs for infant care in center-based care ranged from $5,467 in Alabama to $16,430 in Massachusetts. Tuition and fees ranged from $4,278 in Wyoming to $14,576 in New Hampshire....

    President Barack Obama speaks at the League of Conservation Voters Capitol Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) DCJM304
  12. PolitiFact: Job creation versus food stamp growth comparison is outdated

    Business

    The statement

    "For every one job created under the Obama administration, 75 people went on food stamps."

    Facebook posts, May 27

    The ruling

    A meme circulating on social media is critical of President Barack Obama. It reads:

    "Obama Fun Fact #301: For every one job created under the Obama administration, 75 people went on food stamps."

    Here's a fun fact: The numbers here are wildly inflated....

  13. PolitiFact: Prior to Benghazi, were there 13 attacks on embassies and 60 deaths under President George W. Bush?

    National

    The statement

    "During the George W. Bush period, there were 13 attacks on various embassies and consulates around the world. Sixty people died."

    Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., May 5, on The Ed Show

    The ruling

    A new inquiry into the White House's response to a 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, has led Democrats to dig up the record of the previous administration in similar circumstances....

  14. PolitiFact: Claim that Wall Street executives donate mainly to Democrats is false

    Business

    The statement

    "Eighty percent of Wall Street executives and their spouses' donations go to Democrats."

    U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, April 12 in a speech

    The ruling

    We asked Gohmert's office for their sourcing, and they provided several columns in the National Review by Michael Franc of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

    In one of them, Franc wrote that "a review of Federal Election Commission data for the current presidential-election cycle sheds light on this important question. Judging by who they support for president, a strong majority of employees at the highest reaches of Wall Street's big financial institutions are, well, big liberals. More Wall Streeters shower far more money — both overall as well as on average — on the more liberal presidential candidates than on their more conservative alternatives."...

  15. PolitiFact: Shot at Obama over men's job gains misses mark

    Business

    The statement

    "Of all the jobs President Obama claims to have created since he started, only 38.5 percent are women. So 61.5 percent have gone to men."

    Eric Bolling, April 8 on Fox News' The Five

    The ruling

    We turned to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal office that calculates employment data.

    We looked at the gender breakdowns for the increase in employed Americans between January 2009, when Obama took office, and March 2014, the most recent month for which data is available....