Trade deficits are only 'not necessarily a bad thing' for those cases where trade deficits really mean *borrowing to invest*.
USA *borrows to consume*, thus in case of USA trade deficits are deadly, both figuratively *and* literally deadly. Figuratively because an economy dying is not really the same thing as a human dying, it's more like an inanimate process that is stopping. Literally because a dying economy leads to actual human poverty, suffering and death for a large number of reasons.
You are actually half way correct that so far trade deficits worked well for the USA because the foreigners did all that work that subsidised the USA consumer, who did not have to work to pay for all that consumption. This is possible (or was possible) because so far US dollar is still a so called 'reserve currency', though it is not backed by anything other than 'faith' and probably some military presence.
People expect things to continue the same way as what they have been accustomed to and they do not expect any serious changes to their lives over their life spans. However people are very often wrong about that, big changes happen, they happen often, they happen suddenly (especially for the uninitiated into the reality of what is happening around them).
What you call a 'sound economic policy' I call 'suicidal economic policy'. I know from your words here that you actually think that government intervention is 'sound economic policy', however it was government intervention that created the situation that required more government intervention. More government intervention further leads to a situation that requires even more government intervention.
If you paid attention to what history shows you would know that government intervention has an accumulative effect and it is self destructing. Pumping fake liquidity into an economy that needs to restructure the debts is the wrong thing, not the right thing. What happened 8 years ago did not prevent a depression, it assured it. 1929 recession was created by government policy, specifically by money printing by the Fed and by buying bad UK debt from France. It was a gigantic bailout that inflated the stock market bubble that eventually burst. Hoover and FDR turned a normal process of deleveraging and debt restructuring into a depression by pumping more liquidity into the system.
They even bought good farming products and ploughed the products into the ground to avoid prices from falling, that's government in action: the market restructures bad ideas and debts but also brings prices down, making it easier to survive the restructuring by the most vulnerable in the system. Government steps in and says: you cannot have that benefit, the prices will stay up and the bad decisions will not be allowed to clear, instead they will be kept around and made bigger by more inflation (money printing) and actual welfare redistribution to those business that failed.
This does not guarantee good outcomes, this ensures accumulating and multiplying of bad outcomes. This is the same thing that happened a number of times in the last (and this) century and it is coming to the point where the impact of the next crisis will no longer be manageable by these usual tools that the government has (and it's always just one tool, often disguised under different names), it is theft, it is money printing and theft of existing purchasing and saving power of those, who have savings.
If you understood any of this, you wouldn't have written the statements that you did. Not understanding all of this so far very likely means further misunderstanding on your part and this also may mean that the coming crisis will hit you in a way that you cannot comprehend.