Most presidents, and most congresses, have taken this stance. They view the constitution more as a good document in its time. Our history is ripe with examples of how actions, legislation and financial manipulation have no basis in the constitution.
Beginning with John Adams, and proceeding to Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush, Congress has enacted and the president has signed laws that criminalized political speech, suspended habeas corpus, compelled support for war, forbade freedom of contract, allowed the government to spy on Americans without a search warrant, and used taxpayer dollars to shore up failing private banks.Bush and his administration have blood all over their hands. Too many of our politicians including Obama and McCain have gone along with it. Even many Republicans and so-called conservatives felt that the government needed to offer some kind of assistance.
In virtually every generation and during virtually every presidency (Jefferson, Jackson and Cleveland are exceptions that come to mind) the popular branches of government have expanded their power. The air you breathe, the water you drink, the size of your toilet tank, the water pressure in your shower, the words you can speak under oath and in private, how your physician treats your illness, what your children study in grade school, how fast you can drive your car, and what you can drink before you drive it are all regulated by federal law. Congress has enacted over 4,000 federal crimes and written or authorized over one million pages of laws and regulations. Worse, we are expected by law to understand all of it.
The truth is that the Constitution grants Congress 17 specific (or "delegated") powers. And it commands in the Ninth and 10th Amendments that the powers not articulated and thus not delegated by the Constitution to Congress be reserved to the states and the people.
What's more, Congress can only use its delegated powers to legislate for the general welfare, meaning it cannot spend tax dollars on individuals or selected entities, but only for all of us. That is, it must spend in such a manner -- a post office, a military installation, a courthouse, for example -- that directly enhances everyone's welfare within the 17 delegated areas of congressional authority.
And Congress cannot deny the equal protection of the laws. Thus, it must treat similarly situated persons or entities in a similar manner. It cannot write laws that favor its political friends and burden its political enemies.
Why any conservative would trust the government to do the right thing is beyond me. Now, the federal government always does the wrong thing. This $700B (plus $150B in pork) bailout violates the principle of equal protection, focusing exclusively on private, good 'ol boy welfare.
The U.S. Constitution was inspired by God. It does not need to pushed aside or considered "not applicable for out time." If changes need to be made, there is a provision to accomplish this.
As a member of the LDS Church, we know that the scriptures and living prophets will never lead us astray. As a basis for excellent government, the U.S. Constitution will never lead us astray if we adhere to is core meaning. The notion that is inapplicable for many of our modern issues is democratic apostasy.