The Fight for the Middle Class: Calling on Banks to Do More

Nearly a century later, Peoples Bank faced another test. Last year, when lending to small-town businesses was at a record low, the bank kept giving out loans. It kept lending even though new loans backed by the government stimulus offered little for the bank -- no interest and deferred payments.

Now, Peoples Bank is third in the entire country in offering small business owners loans.

"We looked at it and said it's going to take work on our part; we might not even make money off it in the short run, but in the long run it's going to be good for customers, so it's going to be good for us," Amman said.

"I consider them all to be my friends," Amman said. "They are our neighbors. We go to church with them. I see them at PTA meetings. I see them at the ball fields."

A Three-Page Mortgage?

There are other simple ideas that could be a big help. Elizabeth Warren wants to see three-page mortgage agreements and one-page credit card agreements become the norm, with penalties and fees marked clearly in the same big font. Right now, multi-page mortgage documents often are an inch thick.

That's an idea that appeals to Amman at Peoples Bank.

"Documents could be streamlined," Amman said. "It would reduce the paperwork to not only the lender, but also the consumer, that they could have something they could read."

They're some smart ideas from a small town, but the question now may be: Are any of the bigger banks willing to consider them?

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