Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was campaigning in New Hampshire the other day, and defended his “corporations are people” line. It was a boilerplate response, but a different part of his pitch stood out for me.

Romney continued to deliver his anti-tax message when asked about a recent op-ed article by billionaire investor Warren Buffet in the New York Times arguing that rich people should have to pay higher taxes.

Romney has said repeatedly that he will not raise taxes on anyone. But he also said he would not seek to lower taxes on the wealthy. “I don’t want to waste time trying to get tax cuts for wealthy people because frankly, wealthy people are doing just fine,” Romney said.

This is, I suppose, Romney’s way of trying to sound reasonable. He’s not going to ask the rich to pay a little more to lower the deficit, but he’s also not one of those crazies who want to give the wealthy even more tax breaks.

There are, however, two problems with this.

First, if Romney is serious about fiscal responsibility — he’s clearly not, but if he were — ruling out modest tax increases on millionaires and billionaires just doesn’t make any sense. There’s just no realistic way to bring the budget closer to balance without asking the very wealthy to pay a little more.

Second, Romney may think he’s positioning himself as sensible and pragmatic by ruling out tax cuts for the wealthy, but let’s not forget that Romney also sang the praises of Paul Ryan’s budget agenda, widely endorsed by congressional Republicans. And what did the Ryan agenda do? It cut taxes for the wealthy.

…Mr. Ryan may speak about the deficit in apocalyptic terms, but even if you believe that his proposed spending cuts are feasible — which you shouldn’t — the Roadmap wouldn’t reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich.

And I do mean slash. The Tax Policy Center finds that the Ryan plan would cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population in half, giving them 117 percent of the plan’s total tax cuts. That’s not a misprint.

In fact, the Ryan plan would lower the top tax rates for individuals and corporations to 25%, from the current 35%.

And yet, Romney has not only praised the Ryan plan, he said he’d sign it as president.

“Wealthy people are doing just fine”? That’s true, but Romney has nevertheless endorsed a plan to slash taxes for the rich a lot. The reasonable shtick is just for show.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.