Make us your home page

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. Fact-checking Jeb Bush, Ben Carson on the Sunday shows


    With a new poll showing him in a virtual tie with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, Ben Carson went on the Sunday news shows to talk politics, including to explain some of his recent comments on immigration.

    On ABC's This Week, Carson said he gets his information on immigration from local sheriffs and that he doesn't trust information from the federal government.

    "You know, a lot of these people who are captured, it's ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) who comes along and says, 'You must release these people.' And that's not helpful to the American people. They need to be working for the American people, not against them," Carson said....

    Ben Carson's claim that the government abolished programs that allowed Yuma County to achieve dramatic reductions rates Mostly False. [AP photo]
  2. PolitiFact: Demand for 8-hour workday predates Henry Ford Era


    The statement

    "Unions did not create" the eight-hour work day and the 40-hour work week. "Henry Ford did."

    Viral image, Sept. 6 in a Facebook post

    The ruling

    In the United States, a few limited eight-hour-day laws were on the books shortly after the Civil War. One, in Illinois, was passed in 1867, followed in 1868 by a law covering certain classes of federal workers. But neither law was well-enforced, and in most sectors, working hours of 10 to 12 hours were common. So a reduction in the work week became a leading issue for the nascent labor movement....

  3. PolitiFact: Trump's claim that U.S. is most highly taxed country is wrong


    The statement

    "We're the most highly taxed nation in the world."

    Donald Trump, Aug. 24, in an interview on Fox & Friends

    The ruling

    During a recent interview on Fox & Friends, Donald Trump offered a digression on tax policy — at times an unorthodox one, at least for a Republican.

    For instance, Trump said that hedge fund managers — some of them the billionaire counted as "friends" — are "not paying enough tax." He also rejected a flat tax, an idea supported by some Republicans, countering that progressivity in the tax code is important. "As you make a certain amount of money, I think you should have to graduate upward" in tax rates, Trump said....

    In this Thursday, Aug.  27, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens during a news conference after speaking at the TD Convention Center, in Greenville, S.C. Trump's call for mass deportation of millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, as well as their American-born children, bears similarities to a large-scale removal that actually happened to many Mexican-American families 85 years ago.  (AP Photo/Richard Shiro) WX102
  4. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton's dueling tweets each miss the mark


    What works better on Twitter? Snarky digs at your enemies, or serious public policy discussions?

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — or at least their respective campaign staffs — did both on Aug. 10, using graphics, hashtags and cheeky banter to debate a legitimate policy issue: the cost of higher education.

    As part of promoting her college affordability plan, Clinton tweeted a graphic that said "$1.2 trillion, the amount 40 million Americans owe in student debt," accompanied by the text, "Cost won't be a barrier to an education. Debt won't hold you back." Her proposal offers federal money to states that work to rein in college costs. ...

    Jeb Bush’s campaign sent out this snarky tweet after Hillary Clinton announced her plan to make college more affordable.
  5. PolitiFact: Do stocks do better under Democratic presidents?


    The statement

    "The stock market does better when you have a Democratic president in the White House."

    Hillary Clinton, July 28 in a town hall in Nashua, N.H.

    The ruling

    There have been a couple of studies addressing this question, and they all agree: For whatever reason, going back more than a century, the stock market has done better under Democratic presidents than Republican presidents....

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens to a home care worker during a roundtable discussion on home care, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) CAJH101
  6. Perspective: Anatomy of a talking point: the smallest Navy since 1917


    Not long after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced his run for the presidency in June, he appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe — and hearkened back to World War I.

    "I'm going to rebuild our military," Graham said on June 4, 2015. "We're on a course to have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915."

    The line about the "smallest Navy" has become a popular talking point among presidential candidates who want to discuss spending more money on the military....

    In 1907, Teddy Roosevelt sent 16 battleships, painted white and billowing coal smoke, on a worldwide tour to assert an image of U.S. might. They had big guns but no radar, no missiles and no planes.
  7. PolitiFact: Trump wrong on economic decline of African-Americans under Obama


    Blunt Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump portrayed himself Sunday as the target of vicious attacks from his competition, four days ahead of the first prime time debate of the 2016 cycle.

    But it didn't take long in an interview, one of three he gave by phone, for Trump to insult one figure who definitely won't be on stage Thursday: President Barack Obama.

    ABC's This Week's Jonathan Karl asked Trump about comments on Twitter in November in which Trump said Obama has done "such a poor job as president, you won't see another black president for generations."...

    Under Barack Obama, key statistics have improved for black citizens.
  8. PolitiFact: Trump offers clumsy defense of comments on McCain


    Donald Trump didn't back down Sunday from comments he made a day earlier that Vietnam War POW John McCain is "not a war hero."

    In an interview on ABC's This Week, Trump claimed his remarks at an Iowa forum were taken out of context by Republican presidential candidates jealous of Trump's poll numbers.

    "Four times, I said he is a hero," Trump told ABC's Martha Raddatz. "But you know, people choose little selective like you try to do. People choose little selective pieces. If you read what I say or if you watch what I say, which is even better, you'll say that there was nothing wrong."...

    Donald Trump repeatedly said that John McCain “is a war hero,” but the statement was always made with strings attached.
  9. PolitiFact: International fact-checkers focus on fake photos


    SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina

    It's said that a picture tells 1,000 words. But what if they are lies?

    That was one of the most urgent topics addressed by a group of fact-checkers and other experts during the second War, Art, Reporting & Memory (or WARM) festival, a gathering in Sarajevo in late June that was designed to bring together journalists, artists, historians and others who study the world's contemporary armed conflicts....

    Associated Press (2009)
  10. The Buzz's House vulnerability rankings for 2016


    These days, the re-election rate of congressional incumbents hovers tantalizingly close to 100 percent. But that doesn’t mean Florida will be devoid of competitive congressional races next year.

    For the fourth straight cycle, the Buzz is publishing a periodic ranking of the most vulnerable seats in Florida's U.S. House delegation, which currently includes 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats. This is our first attempt at compiling rankings for the 2016 cycle. Since the lists of possible challengers are not settled, this is a “baseline” assessment that will change as Election Day 2016 approaches....

  11. Bush gets ease of Estonia tax filing right


    The statement

    "You can fill out your tax return in Estonia online in five minutes."

    Jeb Bush, June 2 at an economic summit in Orlando

    The ruling

    Aides to Bush sent us links to two articles. In 2012, the website Business Insider called Estonia's tax system "scarily efficient," noting "the process takes an average of five minutes." The following year, the Economist agreed, reporting that "filing an annual tax return online, as 95% of Estonians do, takes about five minutes."...

    Former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks at a news conference in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, June 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski) XCS163
  12. PolitiFact: Was Ronald Reagan's record on black unemployment better than Barack Obama's?


    The statement

    "During Obama's first five years as president, black unemployment increased 42 percent. During Reagan's presidency, black unemployment dropped 20 percent."

    Facebook posts, May 17

    The ruling

    Recently, a reader forwarded us a social media meme that accused President Barack Obama of having a worse record on African-American employment than former President Ronald Reagan — a charge which, if true, would be an embarrassment to the nation's first black president....

  13. PolitiFact: How hedge fund managers' taxes compare with those of nurses, truckers


    The statement

    Hedge fund managers "pay less in taxes than nurses and truck drivers."

    Hillary Clinton, May 18 in Mason City, Iowa

    The ruling

    The available data isn't perfect for making this sort of comparison, but we'll use the most appropriate data we can find and note the caveats.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median 52-week earnings for industrial truck and tractor operators was $30,888 a year. For registered nurses, it was $56,680 a year, and for nurse practitioners it was $87,516 a year....

    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 20:  Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with parents and child care workers at the Center for New Horizons on May 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Clinton arrived in Chicago after campaigning Monday and Tuesday in Iowa.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) 555349239
  14. Fact-checking claims about GOP candidate Carly Fiorina on the Sunday shows

    A trio of Republican presidential hopefuls officially entered the 2016 race last week, which meant a requisite trip to the Sunday news shows.

    There, all were asked to defend past controversies.

    On Fox News Sunday, Ben Carson explained his past comparison of the U.S. government to Nazi Germany. "What I said is that in Nazi Germany, most of those people didn't believe in what Hitler was doing, but did they say anything? They did not," Carson said. "That's what allowed people to progress to that point."...

    Carly Fiorina, a GOP presidential hopeful, led tech company HP from 1999 to 2005.
  15. PolitiFact: Is the EPA trying to regulate your barbecue?

    State Roundup

    The statement

    "EPA wants to regulate . . . the family BBQ."

    Allen West, former U.S. representative, March 19 on his website

    The ruling

    West — now the president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based free-market think tank — recently leapt to the defense of home-cooked meat.

    The article was headlined, "Two things the EPA wants to regulate in your life," and referred to alleged interest by the Environmental Protection Agency in backyard barbecues and hotel shower water. Here's an excerpt of West's post:...

    Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., talks about the standoff between Democrats and Republicans over the debt crisis on Capitol Hill in Washington, Saturday, July 30, 2011.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) DCSA121