Hillary’s Government by Timeout

When it comes to policy decisions, Hillary Clinton often follows the rule: When in doubt, call timeout. Rather than find a solution, put everything on pause while we look for a solution.

Most recently, Clinton called for a suspension of the gas tax. The proposal has met with almost universal derision , prompting Clinton to say she doesn’t need to listen to so-called experts . Americans need relief now ; we can talk about long-term solutions later.

During the mortgage crisis, Clinton proposed a five-year “freeze” on mortgage rates. Again, critics argued that that the plan would probably drive up interest rates and potentially drive down home prices even further. But we can worry about that later.

Back in November, Clinton called for a “timeout” on trade. Rather than looking at each trade deal independently, the plan would put a moratorium on trade deals—which sounded good to many Iowa voters—and then look at each deal independently. Until then, just suspend the entire system that drives the international economy.

The timeout approach is brilliant, in a way: It makes you look proactive when really you’re just putting off decisions. It’s especially effective during a campaign, when the appearance of action is more important than action itself. But in a fast-moving world—and with a slow-moving Congress—it seems counterintuitive to halt trade deals, freeze mortgage rates, and lift gas taxes for a period of three months. (For one thing, they’d have a heck of a time reimposing it.) It’s not the solutions so much as the order of operations that are bizarre. First step: Grind the government to a screeching halt. Then: Examine what’s right and wrong with the system.

Plus, “timeout” sounds vaguely parental: The mortgage rates will have to go sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done.