A distinguished private commission advised future Presidents today to be ready and willing to transfer power to the vice president when they are faced with medical situations such as those that confronted Ronald Reagan.
The commission, in a report that was two years in the making, studied ways of implementing the 25th Amendment, which addresses the inability of a President to function but is vague on specifics.
One of the group's chief recommendations is that Presidents-elect and their staffs write out--in the transition period after election and before inauguration--a plan to cover medical emergencies.
"This business of transferring presidential power is the most difficult in the governmental process," said former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), co-author of the 25th Amendment.
"The staff, the families, the President himself traditionally have not wanted to give up presidential power," said Bayh, co-chairman of the group. "When the CEO of a major corporation is ill, the second in command runs things. And so it should be, and is provided for constitutionally, for the President."
The 11-member commission included Herbert Brownell, who was attorney general in the Eisenhower Administration and had a major role in developing the amendment; retired Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, and Mortimer M. Caplin, Internal Revenue Service commissioner under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.