I'm all for paying it down significantly during good times. But that means ignoring people like Bush. When debt was falling like a rock, as a share of GDP, in 2000, he campaigned on the idea we needed his tax cut (structured, of course, to give the vast majority of its benefit to the rich), because people had overpayed. Basically, in bad times Republicans think we need tax cuts for stimulus, and in good times they think we need tax cuts because surpluses are a sign that government is collecting too much revenue, and so debt is always rising fast. Republicans also think, for some weird reason, that we need to spend more on our military than all our potential adversaries combined, and four or five times more than the next-closest country. And they think that new government spending should be structured so as to make it as profitable for corporations as possible, even if that means much higher prices for taxpayers (see the no-bid rebuilding contracts in Iraq, or the Bush drug program, which expressly blocked the government from negotiating prices for those drugs). That's why they've routinely been so bad for our fiscal situation.