Clinton was president when the country ran some years of surplus but there was still a large national debt from other years. It helped to have Republicans in the house and senate and they actually worked together unlike now. It may get better IF Obama gets re-elected because then the republicans won't be as concerned about making Obama look bad since he won't be able to run again. Right now, their major concern is getting Obama out of office.
The annual deficits are easy to remove by getting rid of corporate tax breaks and decreasing the war effort around the world. As far as the entire national debt, that would take years, but a few years of surplusses would at least be an improvement.