OBAMA ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES TO PUSH BACK…. It’s gone on largely below the radar, but this week we’ve seen a White House slightly more aggressive than usual in calling out elements of the GOP agenda, and making an assertive case against misguided Republican ideas.

Consider just the past few days. The GOP wants to extend massively expensive tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires? The White House pushed back. The GOP wants to scrap economic stimulus? The White House pushed back. The GOP wants to reject religious liberty in lower Manhattan? The White House pushed back. The GOP wants to undermine Social Security with a dangerous privatization scheme? The White House pushed back.

And the GOP wants to repeal at least part of the 14th Amendment? That’s getting some pushback, too.

The Obama administration today blasted for Republicans for bringing up the possibility of changing the 14th Amendment while refusing to take part in a discussion about comprehensive immigration reform legislation with Democrats.

“Any talk about amending the Constitution is just wrong,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said with respect to the immigration debate. Napolitano added she was “surprised, to say the least,” that Republicans were raising the idea before coming to the table to talk about amending immigration statutes.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called GOP interest in changing the amendment “rich in its irony [and] wrong in its approach.”

“It is always interesting that those that have with steadfast fidelity talked about not tampering with our Constitution have now swerved to pick the 14th Amendment as the best place to address comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.

He added that the 14th Amendment enshrines equal protection and due process — “two things that don’t need to be tampered with.”

As a substantive matter, it’s a shame that basic tenets of American society even need high-profile defenses like these, but as the Republican Party moves even further to the right, it’s apparently necessary.

But as a political matter, there’s an ongoing drive among Democrats to characterize Republicans as extremists. When the GOP calls for giving the Constitution a little touch up, and repealing a basic tenet of American law, Republicans make the Dems’ task a little easier. The pushback is intended to make the case to the public, but it’s also intended to remind voters of just how far gone much of the contemporary GOP really is.

Steve Benen

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.