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“Consumers everywhere will pay more for the letters and packages they need to send; businesses — large and small — will suffer and even more jobs will be lost,” complained Mr. Conway, who was designated spokesman for the Affordable Mail Alliance, a coalition of businesses, charities and other mailers formed to oppose the increase.

Postal officials also have proposed eliminating Saturday mail delivery as a means of cutting costs, a change that would require congressional approval.

Post office finances are also complicated by the requirement that the agency make annual payments to pre-fund future health benefits for retirees, something not required of other government agencies.

And the postal inspector general contends that the Postal Service has been overcharged billions of dollars for retirement benefits for employees who worked for the old Post Office Department before it was converted to the Postal Service in 1970.