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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: Do killer whales live as long at SeaWorld as in the wild? (w/video)

    State Roundup

    More and more, critics are making the case that keeping killer whales in captivity is harmful to the animals and dangerous for the people who train them. SeaWorld, the theme park that showcases the trained whales, is now fighting back.

    A new ad, part of a multimedia blitz for the company, is headlined, "Fact: Whales live as long at SeaWorld," and it is written in the voice of Chris Dold, a SeaWorld veterinarian. The ad, which has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, takes specific aim at criticism leveled by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal-rights group that has been among the theme park company's biggest critics. Here's a portion of the ad's text:...

  2. PolitiFact: A look at stock market surge in past six years


    The statement

    "The stock market has almost tripled since April of 2009."

    Former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., March 15 on ABC's This Week

    The ruling

    Many Americans believe that the economic recovery has only recently picked up steam. But one group that is widely seen as benefiting in recent years are investors in the stock market. This is a point that former Sen. James Webb, D-Va. — a potential 2016 candidate for president — made during an interview on ABC's This Week....

    FILE - In this Dec 3, 2014 file photo, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb speaks at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. Most U.S. presidential candidates really don't want to spend nearly two years bowing and scraping to voters and campaign donors. And most voters sure don't want to hear about the presidential race for anywhere near that long. Yet 20 months out from the November 2016 presidential election, no fewer than two dozen potential candidates are maneuvering to run and elbowing one another for advantage. Candidates are hiring political staff, donors are taking sides, party operatives are researching potential opponents and activist groups are holding straw polls of dubious value.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) WX206
  3. PolitiFact: Jeb Bush claims millions 'have given up looking for work'


    During a major policy address intended to increase his profile as a 2016 presidential hopeful, former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush criticized the economic performance of President Barack Obama.

    "Six years after the recession ended, median incomes are down, households are, on average, poorer and millions of people have given up looking for work altogether," Bush said to the Detroit Economic Club on Feb. 4....

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said “millions of people have given up looking for work altogether,” at an event in Detroit on Feb. 4.
  4. PolitiFact: Boehner statement on health law penalty too sweeping


    The statement

    The Affordable Care Act "basically puts a penalty or a tax on employers for every new job they create."

    House Speaker John Boehner, Jan. 25 on CBS' 60 Minutes

    The ruling

    Boehner's concern stems from a provision in the law known as the employer mandate, which levies a penalty on employers if they fail to offer their workers health insurance. The provision — twice delayed by the Obama administration — applies to workers who are on the job for at least 30 hours per week. The penalty is calculated on a formula that takes into account the number of uninsured workers....

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, followed by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, emerges from a closed-door strategy session with House Republicans, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. Boehner acknowledged that there have been "a couple of stumbles" in the opening weeks of the new Republican-run Congress, as he and GOP leaders met with reporters. Rep. Johnson is the sponsor of a current bill to expedite the approval process for liquefied natural gas exports. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) DCSA115
  5. PolitiFact: President's claim on unemployment rate is true, but has caveats


    The statement

    "Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis."

    President Barack Obama, Tuesday in his State of the Union address

    The ruling

    The most recent reported monthly unemployment rate was 5.6 percent for December. The last time it was that low was in June 2008, when it was also 5.6 percent.

    The financial crisis occurred after June 2008 — it's generally dated to the implosion of the Wall Street firm Lehman Bros. in September 2008. So Obama clearly has a point....

    President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) CAP146
  6. PolitiFact: Did the economic uptick coincide with the GOP Congress?


    In remarks from the Senate floor, newly elevated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested that his party's takeover of Senate control "appears to coincide" with recent good economic news.

    "After so many years of sluggish growth, we're finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope," McConnell said. "The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration's long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress."...

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
  7. PolitiFact: 10 things that were wrong on the Internet in 2014


    At PolitiFact, one of our most frequent sources of checkable claims is on our readers' social media feeds. And in this regard, 2014 did not disappoint. We checked chain emails, shareable Facebook memes and other Internet detritus, often submitted by readers who ask us: "Is this really true?"

    Most of the time the answer is no: Since PolitiFact began in 2007, we've rated 47 percent of shareable Facebook memes as either False or Pants on Fire, compared with just 20 percent that were either True or Mostly True. The track record of chain emails is even more dismal. A full 83 percent of chain emails have been False or Pants on Fire, compared with just 7 percent that were either True or Mostly True....

    First Lady Michelle Obama, above, waves communist Chinese flags during her trip? No. It was a folk-dance event.
  8. 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.”
  9. 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]
  10. 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]
  11. 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....

    Republican Sens.-elect Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Joni Ernst, both pictured giving speeches after winning Tuesday, were part of an Election Night that turned out to be a wave for Republicans.
  12. 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....

    Robert Jordan, 65, of Parrish grows a small amount of medical marijuana for his wife, Cathy Jordan, 63, who was diagnosed with 27 years ago with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Jordan grows a variety that is high in CBD, a component of cannabis that helps his wife’s motor symptoms without making her high. Cathy has been smoking marijuana ever since and says it has slowed the progression of her disease. Manatee County sheriff’s deputies received a tip and raided the Jordans’ property and seized plants that Jordan was growing in a small shed, where he can control light and temperature. They had the right to seize his equipment as well, but when they saw that the pot was only for Cathy’s use, Robert Jordan says, they only took one broken lightbulb. The state attorney for Manatee County determined that the pot was for medical use and declined to prosecute. The Jordans recently sued the sheriff, asking for their plants back and asking a judge to declare that Robert Jordan can grow her pot legally. That suit is pending. He has started to grow a few new plants, but it is months from harvest, he says.   CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times
  13. 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
  14. 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. ...

  15. 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....