The smugness with which they've operated over the years has finally come home to roost.
I get the sense that the USGA is now giving these local chapters their marching orders to go out and strong-arm the local clubs to drum up interest, as the numbers have declined to the point where they can't make as much profit because of direct-mail expenses. I suspect the annual user fees for handicap services will increase, but will be promoted nonetheless via an automatic USGA membership deal. In other words, you'll either become a member or you won't have an official USGA handicap.
This is how they operate, so it wouldn't surprise me in the least.