* Perry campaign can’t decide his position on the 16th Amendment: As I reported here yesterday, the Rick Perry campaign released a new statement that distanced him from his book’s claim that we should repeal the 16th Amendment and replace the current tax system with a radical “Fair Tax” or national sales tax. But now a Perry spokesman has told CBS News that, no, the statement didn’t distance Perry from the book’s position on the 16th Amendment at all.

Of course, the statement did just that. In it, the campaign refused to reiterate his support for repealing the amendment or for the more radical tax plans the book had called for. CBS didn’t see it the Perry camp’s way either, reporting accurately: “Perry campaign backs away from call to repeal 16th Amendment.”

Business Insider also got this right, reporting that the Perry camp had “walked back” from the book.

This is straightforward. Perry’s book clearly states that one leading option for fixing our tax code should be to repeal the 16th Amendment and replace it with a “Fair Tax” or national sales tax. So the question for the campaign is: Does Perry still believe this should be an option under consideration? If he does, the campaign should just say so. That would certainly be newsworthy. Until the campaign reiterates support for this position, this stands as a clear walkback.

* How Obama should fight to fix the economy: Good read from former White House adviser Jared Bernstein, who offers Obama a range of options available to him to get the economy back on track — if he’s willing to fight for them. Bernstein aptly sums up Obama’s dilemma:

Here’s the policy reality facing the president: The economy is stuck in the mud and the American people are losing faith that policy makers can do anything about it.

This lack of faith in government has ramifications for all of liberalism.

* The GOP’s tax hike on middle class and working poor: Harold Meyerson does a nice job knocking down the right’s transparently bogus efforts to justify opposition to extending the payroll tax cut:

What the Republicans’ position on the payroll tax makes high-definitionally clear is their own class warfare on working- and middle-class Americans. Their double standard couldn’t be more obvious: Tax cuts for the wealthy are sacrosanct; tax cuts for everyone else don’t really matter.

* Debt ceiling deal has failed to win over independents: Ian Swanson notes a counterintuitive finding: The debt ceiling deal has done nothing to improve Obama’s standing with independents, which suggests the possibility that grand bipartisan debt compromises are not necessarily the way to win back that constituency.

* GOP profoundly split over validity of science: Ronald Brownstein on how Jon Huntsman’s brave assertion that he believes in global warming has some validity will trigger a major intra-party debate over whether it wants to be defined going forward as the anti-science party.

* Rubio as likely Veep candidate? His spokesman is already ruling it out, but it would seem like a no-brainer for Marco Rubio to be picked as the number two on the GOP ticket — he can help win Hispanics, he’s beloved by the right wing base, he’s from a key swing state. One imagines that Rubio’s reluctance would melt away rather quickly if he were asked.

* Mitt Romney contortion of the day: Jonathan Capehart dissects the latest Romney contortion: Romney opposed trying Guantanamo detainees on American soil, but now wants the “Lockerbie bomber” brought to justice in American courts.

Romney’s camp is claiming a distinction between pre- and post-9/11 terrorist. But as Capehart notes, Romney’s call for the Lockerbie bomber to be brought here is an acknowledgment that the court system is up to the task of trying terrorists.

* Absurd opposition to civilian trials: Adam Serwer also digs into the story and finds more evidence of the absurdity of oppposition to such trials.

* New ad slams Allen West: Democracy for America is releasing a new 60-second spot today in the districts of GOP Reps. West and David Rivera, hitting them for destroying the “American dream” and supporting the GOP plan to end Medicare as we know it, another sign Dems are still hoping to keep Medicare front and center through 2012.

* And a note on the right’s fake outrage about Obama and the earthquake: Snark of the day, from Steve Benen:

In the case of the earthquake, if there’d been an actual disaster, and Obama sat around reading a children’s book while Americans were dying, I could see conservatives getting upset. If Obama had been told a month ago that a serious disaster was poised to happen, and he told the geologists, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now” before ignoring the warnings, the right would have plenty of room for criticism.

Heh. What else is going on?