Republicans have several, sometimes conflicting goals in the current government-shutdown impasse. Democrats, by contrast, have just one. It’s called “break the fever.”

Breaking the fever is code for ending the cycle of recurring, last-minute crises over spending bills and increases in the nation’s borrowing limit—the debt ceiling. The White House believes these crises give outsize power to a minority of conservative House Republicans who don’t have the strength to push their agenda into law but can, in a crisis, stop the action.

More important, Democrats are convinced they must break the cycle now, or see much of the Obama second-term agenda sink away.

“The only way for us to go forward is to all make clear that the era of threatening default is over,” Gene Sperling, head of the White House National Economic Council, said Monday at a breakfast organized by Politico.