Most people do not understand that the national debt comes from creating the money we need to operate the country. Without debt, there is NO money. When we pay down the national debt, we are actually destroying the money we need to operate the economy and to save ourselves from our own downfall. Congress has given the banking system a monopoly on creating our money and basically charging us interest forever.
I'd like to make two points here. First, we don't have enough money as it is. The education system, healthcare system, immigration system, infrastructure, veterans, welfare system, toxic waste cleanup system — most every system I can think of in our country needs more money as part of the solution. Infrastructure alone needs about $4 trillion according to the civil engineers. Since we have to borrow all of our money into existence from the banking system, all the bankers have to do is wait until we are desperate enough to go deeper into their debt. The banking system is designed to keep the money scarce, and we know that whoever controls the money controls the country.
The second thing is that there is a proven solution that has a set precedent in our country. When President Lincoln needed money to win the Civil War, the bankers wanted to charge him 25% interest. He knew the union could not afford that, so he created debt-free money in the treasury that stayed in circulation until the mid-1990s. These were called United States Notes, or greenbacks. The American Monetary Institute has done extensive research on bringing back the debt-free money created in the US treasury. They endorsed the Need Act of 2011 that would have put the Federal Reserve under the authority of the Treasury, and paid off the national debt with debt-free money as it came due (but the banking lobby killed it). Look it up at www.monetary.org
Once you understand how our money system is based on debt, you understand that we can no longer afford the system. The system was created by rich, powerful, white, (racist, sexist?) men over 100 years ago who wanted to maintain their power, and who looked into the future and saw an expanding industrial economy that we no longer have. Under the present system, we cannot afford to reduce the national debt, we actually need to increase it by several trillion dollars to take care of our broken systems. This is why I believe we need a different monetary system that does not force us to create more debt to meet our needs at a time when we cannot afford more debt.
This is also why we cannot afford to pay down the national debt — doing so will destroy the money that we need for our own survival. We need a different money system.