So wish I could believe him.

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled no new willingness to bend on raising taxes for the rich Wednesday after one of his more respected GOP colleagues suggested the party should take President Barack Obama’s offer to extend Bush-era tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans.

Rep. Tom Cole, a five-term Oklahoma Republican, told others in his party Tuesday that even though he does not want to let the top federal income tax rate rise back to the Clinton-era level of 39.6 percent, his party should take that deal for the time being. He stood by that assessment Wednesday, telling reporters the GOP would be wise to act on his idea “soon.”

Asked if his proposal would pass the House if it came up for a vote, Cole replied, “My opinion is yes.” He said “a lot” of his GOP colleagues agree with his approach. Still, he noted his influence only goes so far. “I’m not the chief whip. I’m just a deputy whip.”

Boehner, however, was not buying it.

“I told Tom earlier in our conference meeting that I disagreed with him,” the speaker told reporters Wednesday. “He’s a wonderful friend of mine and a great supporter of mine, but raising taxes on the so-called top 2 percent — half of those taxpayers are small-business owners that pay their taxes through their personal income tax filing every year. The goal here is to grow the economy and control spending. You’re not going to grow the economy if you raise tax rates on the top two [percent]. It’ll hurt small businesses; it’ll hurt our economy.”