Jacobs is a graduate of Indianapolis Shortridge High School. He was named Honor Man of his Marine Corps boot camp platoon and served in combat as a Marine Corps infantryman in the Korean War where he sustained 10% disability.
He holds a bachelor's degree and a law degree from Indiana University. While attending law school Jacobs served as a police officer in the Marion County Sheriff's Department where he proposed the traffic safety program for unguarded railroad crossings which virtually ended the 40 annual deaths at such crossings in Marion County.
In 1958 Jacobs was elected to the Indiana General Assembly and authored, among other things, the Indiana Sheriff's Merit Law. In 1961 he as Marion County Chairman for the March of Dimes.
He was elected to the United States House of Representatives on November 3, 1964 and was appointed to the Judiciary Committee where he helped write the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act.
In 1969 he led the House of Representatives all-night debate on the Viet Nam War. The Washington Post described the debate as the first serious Congressional discussion of U.S. policy in Viet Nam. Many believe that this debate was the first step toward ending the American involvement.
Jacobs sponsored the legislation which enabled the Smithsonian Institution to receive the J. K. Lilly gold coin collection, the second largest in the world, and the legislation which made Fathers Day a legal holiday.
Jacobs lost his bid for re-election in 1972 but was re-elected in 1974 and became the first representative in this century elected by the House to represent Indianapolis on the House Ways and Means Committee.
During his tenure on Ways and Means he served as Chairman of both the Subcommittee on Health (Medicate) and the Subcommittee on Social Security where he was a Ranking Minority Member.
As Chairman of the Health Subcommittee, Jacobs was the chief House sponsor of the revolutionary prospective payment program in Medicare which saved hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars without harming beneficiaries. In addition, he was responsible for placing into law the guarantee that the freeze on Medicare payments to doctors would not result in additional charges being passed on to Medicare beneficiaries.
While Chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security, he was the chief House sponsor of legislation to remove the Social Security Administration from the Department of Health and Human Services and make it an independent agency. He was the principle House negotiator on the House and Senate Conference Committee and the provision was signed into law on August 15, 1994.
In addition, Jacobs was the principal sponsor of several other Social Security provisions which became law in 1994. These provisions: (1) require the Department of the Treasury to issue physical documents in the form of bonds, notes or certificates to the social security trust funds to increase public confidence in trust fund investments, (2) increase the penalties for the unauthorized disclosure of information contained in Social Security Administration files; (3) increase the penalties for the misuse of the names, emblems and symbols of the Social Security Administration, Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Care Financing Administration.
Also in 1994, Jacobs' legislation passed in 1980 prohibiting payment of social security benefits to incarcerated felons was expanded to deny social security benefits to institutionalized individuals who are found not guilty of a felony by reason of insanity or those declared incompetent to stand trial.
It was also under his direction as Social Security Subcommittee Chairman that the $50 per quarter threshold for the payment of FICA tax for domestic workers, established in 1950, was raised to $1,000 annually. The higher threshold allows families to hire occasional babysitters, housekeepers and yard workers without having to fill out numerous federal and state tax forms and pay employment taxes.
Jacobs has long been a leading proponent of cognitive pre-school programs for educationally-disadvantaged children and is the author of a provision, enacted in 1994, which created demonstration projects designed to enhance the cognitive skills and linguistic ability of children under the age of five.
Other legislation initiatives by Jacobs (1) resulted in the legislation which pays U.S. government benefits to widows and children of public safety officers who die in the line of duty; (2) provides that the IRS can no longer take 100% of a taxpayer's salary for delinquent taxes; (3) restores social security benefits to independent insurance agents; (4) permits volunteer fire departments to issue tax-free obligations for the purchase of necessary equipment.
His also is the legislation which repealed the law that required withholding taxes on savings and dividend accounts; and it was his proposal, which became law in 1993, that permits the paychecks of federal civilian employees and members of the armed services to be garnished for non-payment of personal debt.
Together with Senator Mark Hatfield, Jacobs sponsored legislation which resulted in the designation of smoking sections in airplanes.
Jacobs, in 1976, authored the "Payment Book Amendment" to the Constitution which required a balanced annual budget with mandatory retirement of the national debt. He reintroduced the Amendment, with bi-partisan and national taxpayers union support, in each Congress since.
Jacobs has been praised by two Indianapolis mayors for his effectiveness in protecting the city's interests in Washington, including saving the new solid waste facility from an unfair tax which would have made it unviable.
He was also credited with making the speech in Congress which stopped a 300% increase in a sales tax.
In 1973 Jacobs authored "The Powell Affair: Freedom Minus One" (Bobbs-Merrill 256 pp.) which tells the story of the ouster from Washington of the Harlem Congressman.
Major Legislative Achievements