In our model, firms choose when to set cost-reducing investment and the government, which only has short-run commitment power, sets an output subsidy. We show that firms that delay investment without government intervention have an incentive to invest early under policy activism, strategically underinvesting or overinvesting to obtain larger subsidies. The policy scheme thus creates a new, potentially more harmful, distortion. Under oligopoly, a firm has a weaker incentive to manipulate policy than under monopoly, which makes policy intervention less harmful. We investigate when the government may do better by adhering to laissez-faire than by engaging in active policy intervention.