BLUE DOGS WON’T HELP GOP WITH HEALTH CARE REPEAL…. The House will take the first steps today towards passing their health care repeal bill, and the outcome is already certain. The new GOP majority will pass their measure, at which point will promptly die.

But I’m interested in the vote count anyway. Earlier in the week, Republicans were feeling pretty good about this largely-pointless stunt, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) boasted there may even be a two-thirds majority in favor of repeal — the necessary level of support to override a presidential veto.

“We have 242 Republicans,” Upton said on Fox News. “There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us.”

Apparently, the “significant number” won’t be nearly as big as Republicans had hoped.

Most Democrats in the House who opposed healthcare reform won’t vote to repeal it next week, one of those lawmakers said Thursday.

Rep. Jason Altmire (Pa.), a centrist Democrat who voted against healthcare reform last year in Congress, said he wouldn’t vote for the Republican bill to repeal the law and that he expected all but a few colleagues to follow suit.

“[T]here’s 13 Democrats remaining that voted against the healthcare bill, myself included. I’ve talked to a lot of them — I think we all have the same concerns. We think, by and large, it was a bad bill,” Altmire said on Fox News. “It did more harm than good. But to repeal it all, including the few provisions that were beneficial, just doesn’t make any sense.”

When the Affordable Care Act passed last year, 34 House Dems broke ranks and opposed final passage. Of them, 21 lost in the midterms. Of the 13 remaining, a grand total of three have said they’ll join with Republicans to repeal the bill. There may be a couple of more when all is said and done, but we’re talking about a small handful, not a “significant number.”

Reader D.C. alerted me to the fact that even Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who’s worried about his re-election prospects and anxious to put some distance between himself and his party, said this week he won’t take the House GOP’s repeal push seriously until they present an alternative policy that does as much as good as the new law.

This is all pretty interesting, given that it suggests Democrats aren’t nearly as defensive about health care reform as they were. On the contrary, they seem to be coming together to protect what the party created.

So much for that veto-proof majority in support of repeal.

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.