Americans Increasingly See The Government Shutdown As Serious

Americans Increasingly

More than four in 10 Americans now consider the partial government shutdown a very serious problem, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.

Seventy-one percent of Americans now say they see the partial government shutdown as at least somewhat serious, a modest uptick from 62 percent last week and 61 percent at the beginning of the shutdown. The share who consider it very serious now stands at 42 percent, up from one-third last week.

The shift also means that concerns now surpass the public’s worries about last year’s brief January shutdown, which was seen as at least somewhat serious by only 64 percent of Americans in HuffPost/YouGov’s polling.

Twenty-three percent of Americans now say they’ve been affected in some way by the current shutdown or that they expect to be, up from 10 percent at the start of the shutdown. For some, that simply means living with the sense that their government isn’t working. But other responses were more specific. Several said they’d reconsidered visits to national parks or expressed looming concerns about tax season. (The White House has since announced that tax refunds will be paid regardless of the status of the shutdown.)

For many federal workers and their families, the shutdown has already had a serious financial impact, forcing some to max out credit cards or borrow money from relatives.

“My husband works for the government and is currently furloughed,” wrote one woman polled who said she was concerned for her family’s “immediate financial future” and that she disapproved of the role both congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump had played in the shutdown.

HuffPost readers: Are you affected by the government shutdown? Email us about it. If you’re willing to be interviewed, please provide a phone number.

Americans are 34 points more likely to disapprove than they are to approve of the way Congress has handled the shutdown. The public also disapproves of the performance of the congressional GOP, specifically (-29), and, by smaller margins, of Trump’s performance (-17) and congressional Democrats’ actions (-9); they’re about split on the performance of their own representatives (+2).

Americans Increasingly

The results appear to represent a modest reversion from the change seen in last week’s survey, although, as before, it’s unclear to what extent the movement reflects a genuine shift in opinion, rather than the kind of fluctuation inherent to tracking surveys.

In contrast with shutdowns from previous years, there’s so far been relatively little polling on this one, perhaps in part because its start coincided with Christmas and the new year.

An Ipsos/Reuters tracking poll finds that currently about half of Americans mostly blame Trump for the shutdown, with 32 percent naming congressional Democrats and 6 percent congressional Republicans. Another survey from Morning Consult, taken at the beginning of the shutdown, bore similar results, with 43 percent of voters saying Trump was most to blame, 31 percent pointing the finger at Democrats in Congress, and 7 percent naming the congressional GOP.

An Economist/YouGov poll taken over New Year’s also gave President Trump the plurality of the blame, and found that 40 percent of the public believe Trump should accept the Democrats’ current offer of $1.6 billion for border security, with just 24 percent saying Democrats should agree to spend $5 billion for a border wall. Another 19 percent said the two parties should meet somewhere in the middle.

Wounded veteran finds new calling as fitness teacher

Wounded veteran finds new calling as fitness teacher

Over 10 years beginning in 2003, Marine veteran Calvin Smith endured 21 surgeries and a leg amputation caused by war injuries in Iraq, a motorcycle accident and a brain tumor.

But looking back on that devastating decade, the 37-year-old Vista, Calif., resident said he wouldn’t change a thing.

On his road to recovery, he fell in love with his speech therapist and she’s now his wife. He also discovered Pilates, which has so reshaped his mental and physical health that he’s now becoming an instructor. His new mission in life is to share the health benefits of the strength-training exercise program with other veterans who’ve experienced traumatic injuries.

“My message is that just because you’re wounded, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something,” he said. “The only person holding you back is yourself.”

Smith is the first veteran amputee in training to become an instructor for Club Pilates, which has 400 gyms nationwide and 250 more scheduled to open this year, said Tianna Strateman, vice president of education for Club Pilates.

Strateman said Pilates is ideal for people like Smith with disabilities or physical limitations because the regimen can be modified for each user. “The goal is to make it the best for one person, not a one size fits all.”

Smith began taking classes at the San Marcos club every day, which helped him shed 45 pounds. And through interacting with trainers and fellow students at the club, it also helped him come out of what he calls his “bubble of isolation” at home.

Wounded veteran finds new calling as fitness teacher

Over the past year, Smith has completed nearly 500 hours of classroom, fitness and assistant teacher training. Once he finishes his teaching hours and an anatomy class next month, he’ll be certified to teach classes at several North County clubs. Eventually, he hopes to teach Pilates to Marines at Camp Pendleton.

Reinhold-Smith, who now works as a speech therapy manager for Kaiser Health, said she’s been amazed by her husband’s transformation. He no longer walks with difficulty, no longer suffers muscle spasms and his personality has been transformed.

“He was really depressed before the brain tumor was removed and was increasingly isolated and trying to figure out his future,” she said. “Coming here gave him a purpose for his day. He’s a people person and a natural teacher, so being here makes him so much more happy.”

Smith said he’d like to bring more men into the fitness program, which is primarily practiced by women. Reinhold-Smith said she thinks her husband’s recovery through the program might be an incentive for other veterans struggling with amputations and chronic pain.

“I think he could become an ambassador for people with injuries who are looking for something,” she said. “He has a lot to give back to people.”

New hearts forge new friendship for transplant recipients

friendship for transplant recipients

A suburban Detroit woman and South Side Chicago man are recovering in a Chicago hospital following rare triple transplant surgeries that gave them the healthy heart, liver and kidney each needed — and a new friendship they never expected.

University of Chicago Medicine doctors announced Friday that they successfully completed the triple organ transplants on Sarah McPharlin, a 29-year-old woman of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, and Daru Smith, a 29-year-old father from Chicago’s South Side, within 30 hours of one another.

McPharlin had two transplants canceled earlier in the year, pushing her surgery back.

“Maybe because it’s only luck that both of those transplants were supposed to be at the same time,” Nir Uriel, the director of heart failure, transplant and mechanical circulatory support for the hospital, said at a news conference Friday. University of Chicago Medicine has performed the most heart-liver-kidney transplants in the world.

Just eight minutes after a medical team finished Smith’s liver transplant on Dec. 20, hospital staff learned that donor organs were available for McPharlin. Smith, who finished surgery that day, became only the 16th person in the U.S. to undergo a heart-liver-kidney transplant and hours later on Dec. 21 McPharlin became the 17th.

Each surgery required a 22-person team, with some staffers working on both patients. The hospital also performed five other organ transplants during that time period.

Smith and McPharlin, who had her first heart transplant at the age of 12, arrived at the Chicago hospital in November.

friendship for transplant recipients

But neither knew they were both seeking a triple transplant when they first met during pre-therapy sessions ahead of surgery. The sessions were quiet and patients didn’t share details about their transplants. But McPharlin’s mother, who quit her job as a school teacher in Michigan to be with her daughter for treatment, pried out of Smith that he was awaiting the same organs as McPharlin.

“It’s been mind-blowing and amazing, having someone go through the process with me, gave me more motivation,” Smith, a truck driver, said during a video interview at the hospital Friday.

The pair, who are recovering on the same hospital floor, share walks and give each other high-fives when they pass one another in the hallways. Their families are already planning a dinner together in the city once the two are released and feeling better.

Nurses say they notice a difference in recovery for the two compared to other transplant patients, because they have gone through the same unusual and debilitating surgery together.

McPharlin and Smith notice too.

“It was so cool to know we would be able to see each other progress together,” McPharlin, an occupational therapist, said Friday. “It was really cool to see how Daru was getting up in the hall and I knew eventually, or pretty soon, I would be doing the same.”