Dec 19 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Independent political groups in the U.S. have more than doubled their spending in the past four years, rivaling the Democratic and Republican parties. The shift could further polarize the political landscape.
* Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said in an interview that Washington should consider a stimulus plan of up to $75 billion to stave off a recession.
* Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that compelling lenders to alter mortgage contracts would be a damaging tax on the economy and it would be less harmful to simply give the homeowners money.
* In an acknowledgment of the most-difficult period in Bear Stearns Cos Inc’s BSC.N 84-year history, Chief Executive Officer James Cayne and other senior executives are expected to forgo bonuses for this year, people familiar with their plans say.
* The U.S. Federal Reserve’s proposal to clamp down on high-risk home loans was the broadest-ever use of its authority to regulate the mortgage industry. But the plan drew criticism from lawmakers who sought more action.
* U.S. Congress neared final passage of a $555 billion year-end spending bill after the Senate added the last piece of Iraq war funding needed to win President George W. Bush’s signature.
* Palm Inc PALM.O posted a quarterly loss and projected an even bigger deficit in the current quarter, as the smartphone maker struggles with stiff competition.
* California faces a projected $14.5 billion deficit, testing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as he balances raising taxes and cuts in services.
* Google Inc (GOOG.O), Cablevision Systems Corp CVC.N and other nontraditional players are poised to square off against traditional U.S. wireless entities in the federal government’s spectrum auction in January.
* General Motors Corp (GM.N) will offer a buyout program to about 5,200 U.S. workers and will raise prices by an average of 1.5 percent on most 2008 models.
* A 710-year-old copy of the declaration of human rights known as the Magna Carta was sold for $21.3 million at a Sotheby’s auction. The document, which had been expected to draw bids of up to $30 million, was bought by Carlyle Group’s [CYL.UL] David Rubenstein.