I’ve participated in town hall meetings in the 5th congressional district with Rep. Mike Thompson and have listened to seniors who rely on Social Security. So I was surprised to read David Forstadt’s letter to the editor (“Social Insecurity,” Sept. 1).

Mr. Forstadt contends that Congressman Thompson — a true champion of Social Security — is “misinformed” about the program. But Mr. Forstadt is the one who may be misinformed.

The last thing that Napa seniors need is the approach that Mr. Forstadt proposes –- especially when it comes to privatizing Social Security. Americans do not want their hard-earned retirement benefits to be gambled on Wall Street.

Social Security is a guaranteed benefit; investments in the stock market are not. Just ask anyone who lost their retirement savings in the 2008 crash.

When President George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security in 2005, Americans pushed back and stopped that losing proposition in its tracks.

For 86 years, Social Security has been a financial lifeline for American workers who otherwise might have zero retirement income. It was designed to keep seniors out of poverty, where many were stuck before Social Security. Our millions of members and supporters nationwide, including 5,200 in California’s 5th district, consistently remind us that Social Security keeps a roof over their heads. It helps widows and widowers survive financially after the death of a spouse — and allows disabled Americans to cover essential living expenses when they no longer can work.

“Thank God for Social Security” is a refrain we often hear from seniors. The program’s enormous popularity can be explained with two words: it works.

Can benefits be improved? Of course. That’s what Rep. Mike Thompson, as one of the first co-sponsors of legislation to strengthen the program and enhance benefits, is fighting for.

Unfortunately, many conservatives have advocated cutting benefits, including raising the retirement age to 70 and shifting to a stingier COLA. Seniors living on fixed incomes would be devastated if their Social Security is reduced in any way.

We must reject any attempts to undermine Social Security — and unite around efforts by the president, Rep. Thompson, and like-minded members of Congress to give seniors’ earned benefits a much-needed boost.

Max Richtman, President and CEO
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
Washington, D.C.