Retiree: 'Everything's gone up, except me'

Social Security income is taxable, if you make more than $25,000 in a year, say in parttime jobs or combined pensions.

It's been that way since Jim Screnci retired in 1982, the South Philly native says. But now, with Obama and Congress keeping tax rates lower for rich and middle class alike, he's wondering: Shouldn't retirees be able to keep a little more?

"The idea of taxing Social Security" for better-off retirees "was to make wealthy people pay taxes," Screnci tells me. "But in my life, I never made more than $32,000 a year." He was a regional sales manager for National Dairies, and later for Remington Rand and Brother office machines.

Screnci now collects a little more than he ever did working, from his combined Navy, Social Security, and several small pensions. But his retirement has gone up a lot less, he figures, than utilities, TV, even food, in the past 28 years. "I don't mind paying taxes, if I made enough," he told me. "But I was frugal most of my life. I saved money. My Navy Reserve pay went into my savings."

He doesn't see why he should have to keep paying taxes like it's 1982, now that  "everything's gone up, except me."