CLYBURN OPTIMISTIC ABOUT REFORM’S FATE…. Following up on an earlier item, there are some entirely legitimate concerns about securing a House majority on health care reform. It’s worth noting, though, that the Democratic leader whose job it is to count votes not only seems confident, but made the audacious claim that reform may get more votes next time than the 220-vote majority it got in November.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) … made his comments just after President Barack Obama unveiled his detailed health plan Monday morning. The move was intended to set the agenda for the bipartisan healthcare summit at the White House on Thursday.

“I do believe that if what I have seen and what I’ve been hearing is close to being accurate, I do believe that we can get there in the House,” he said on MSNBC. “We got there with some people holding out for some things that we have now gotten in the Senate plan and in the president’s proposal.

“I do believe there is more fertile soil today than when we first took this up.”

At first blush, this seems pretty hard to believe. On second blush, too. Democrats seem more anxious and fearful than they were in November, and they have three fewer votes than they did at the time. A senior White House official said House Speaker Pelosi perceives passing reform as “possibly doable,” which isn’t exactly a rock-solid guarantee.

But Clyburn is directly responsible for counting votes, and I can’t think of any obvious reasons he’d have to exaggerate what’s possible.

Are there some Blue Dogs who’ll go for the more moderate Senate version? Are there some retiring incumbents who were feeling vulnerable but are now liberated? Might Kucinich decide that a step forward is ultimately better than a step backward?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.