Last year the online site was accessed 5.6 million times. If the absence of a Statistical Abstract increases search time by even two minutes, then the cost, based on the all-in average pay of reference librarians, will be about five times the federal savings. Were Congress to order up a cost-benefit study, the figure would be a loser, costing society at least $5 for every dollar of tax money saved.
Not to mention the symbolic slap in the face to supporting fact-based public discourse.
(The Census Bureau attempts to ameliorate this by pointing out that all the info is still available, dispersed across agencies and sources. Yeah, but if the Statistical Abstract ever had value — which it did — it’s because it aggregated data that can be difficult to chase down.)